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US immigration law: Are Florida detention centers like prisons?

There are approximately 2,000 immigrants per day placed in detention in Florida. Many immigrant advocates say this number is exorbitant and driven by profit-hungry privateers who own most of the facilities where such people are housed. Advocates also say that many U.S. immigration law detention centers in this state more closely resemble prisons than the transition, processing or holding centers they are supposed to be. 

Some of the most common problems cited in numerous detention facilities in south Florida include overuse of solitary confinement, long lapses of time between meals and lack of proper medical attention. In fact, a recent report was filed that stated that, out of four detention centers that were visited, serious substandard conditions existed in all. The Attorney General is said to have recommended more state inspections of such facilities as a way to improve the situation.

The recent report called immigration detention centers in south Florida "prison by any other name," also citing that, in addition to the problems mentioned earlier in this post, there is an absence of disability accommodations to assist immigrants with special needs. The types of conditions listed in the report are, in fact, violations of accepted standards. Immigrant advocates have said that the situation in this state does not appear to be an isolation, as many other Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers across the country have been found to have similar problems.

U.S. immigration law stipulates what may or may be done regarding shelter, mental and physical health provisions and other care provisions in detention. If a Florida immigrant believes his or her rights have been violated, or is facing a legal status issue in detention that he or she does not feel equipped to handle alone, a request for a meeting with an immigration law attorney can be made. Securing legal representation is often the first step toward resolving such problems.

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