Edwidge Danticat: Detained immigrants deserve humane treatment

Repeating Islands


This article by Edwidge Danticat appeared in The Washington Post.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency released “several hundred” immigrants from detention facilities across the United States late last month in an effort to stay within its budget amid “fiscal uncertainty” related to the so-called sequester. More immigrants are expected to be freed soon. This is a good thing: The agency detains about 400,000 men, women and children per year, most of whom pose no threat to the United States.

Sequester fallout or not, the releases prove what critics have said for years: Detention — an arduous, sometimes lengthy and even dangerous experience — is not always necessary.

My 81-year-old uncle Joseph was taken into custody at the Miami airport in October 2004 after he requested asylum. Joseph was a throat cancer survivor with high blood pressure and an inflamed prostate. Although he had a…

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