Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sorry about the food poisoning outbreak

But just what is this place? A privately run immigration detainee camp?:

TACOMA, Wash., Aug. 15 Public health officials in Tacoma, Wash., were investigating Wednesday to see if food poisoning caused 300 detainees in an immigration facility to become ill.

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department officials were called Saturday night when about 180 detainees were treated for diarrhea, nausea and vomiting at the Northwest Detention Center's health clinic, The Seattle Times reported.

More cases followed, including several involving staff members who had also eaten at work that day, officials said.

Health department spokesman Joby Winans said officials were looking into how the food was prepared and surveying those who got sick about what they ate.

"The good news is that no one was seriously ill. They were uncomfortable, yes, but not seriously ill," Winans told the Times.

The privately contracted facility is run by The GEO Group, which serves three hot meals per day to about 1,000 people, the report said.

Northwest Detention Center? What does Google tell us....

Oh dear god:

On April 7, [2004] politicians and law enforcement officials gathered in Tacoma, Washington, to celebrate the opening of the Department of Homeland Security’s newest gem, a $115 million facility called the Northwest Detention Center.

The building, designed to hold up to 700 undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation, was nearly two years in the works, and supporters hoped it would provide a much-needed economic boon to the region.

Later that week, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division sent a report to Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, documenting the results of an investigation into two of the state’s juvenile halls. In stomach-churning detail, investigators described how employees brutally beat youths at the facilities, and how basic living conditions didn’t meet even the lowest constitutional standards. In a subsequent statement, Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta said, “No juvenile should be exposed to such conditions.”


Before the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2002, Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) handled detentions under the purview of the Justice Department. Dow’s book documents cases of abuse and unjust imprisonment in INS detention centers dating back to the ’80s and the influx of immigrants from countries like Haiti, Guatemala and El Salvador. Such an environment thrived, he says, because detainees were trapped in a legal netherworld and few outside the detention center walls noticed.

The potential for abuse worsened as the number of undocumented immigrant detainees exploded from 5,532 in 1994 to 20,000 in 2001. Faced with mounting costs, INS began contracting with private companies, states and counties. But the resulting patchwork of federal, private and local responsibility created even less accountability, says Dow, and in effect helped further shield INS from public scrutiny.

Following 9/11, the Justice Department added to the secrecy shrouding detainees by invoking a series of draconian measures designed to expand INS’s power. They include closing immigration hearings to the public and holding detainees without charge for 48 hours, or in emergency cases, indefinitely. INS officials denied mass roundups, but it was clear people were being detained with increased regularity. Although specifics are difficult to come by, Dow says between 1,200 and 5,000 people have been detained as a result of the Justice Department’s new policies.

And this: (my bold)

The Department of Homeland Security contracts with The GEO Group, a national detention-management company, to run the detention center.

The center opened in April 2004. It primarily houses immigrants from Washington, Oregon and Alaska facing deportation, although more recently it also has held people brought in from elsewhere.

And this, written in 2006

The end goal: to expel from the country every illegal immigrant without a legitimate claim to be here. Within a year, officials expect to have rattled many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, creating a disincentive for others to attempt illegal crossings.

Homeland Security was on track to remove 180,000 people from the country during the fiscal year that ended Friday, up 7 percent from the previous year.

"We're detaining them with full expectation of removing them and, depending on where they came from, that process can be very quick," said Gary Mead, assistant director for detention and removal operations with the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. Homeland Security wants to send a clear message, he said: "If you come to this country illegally, we'll apprehend you, detain you and remove you."

Under Operation Reservation Guaranteed, as it is being called, detainees are flown to wherever in the country a bed is available. As part of the operation, Homeland Security has relocated about 700 detainees a week across the country, Mead said.

What kind of oversight is going on in these places? What happens to the kids of these detainees, the ones who are born here and are Americans? What kind of fair process is guaranteed for these people? Who protects them from abuse?

It sounds like we have concentration camps in the United States and a ready supply of slave labor.

It reminds me of another era...

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