WASHINGTON ― Human rights advocates spent years fighting for even small improvements to the system that detains men, women and children waiting to be either deported or released back into the U.S. Now they fear the progress they have made could disappear under President Donald Trump, who has promised harsher treatment of undocumented immigrants.
“This administration is prepared to make conditions at immigrant detention even worse than they already are, which, given that for some people they’re already fatal, is terrifying,” said Mary Small, policy director of the advocacy group Detention Watch Network.
Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is considering looser regulations for new contracts with jails to hold immigrants in deportation proceedings, The New York Times reported earlier this month. That agreement would allow jails to treat immigrants detained for civil offenses the same way they treat people charged with crimes.
The department also plans to eliminate an office at Immigration and Customs Enforcement that focuses on improving the detention system and to ramp up detention and deportation efforts.