The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has had remarkable success rounding up undocumented immigrations around the nation. The agency now faces the problem of what to do with those they arrest for being in the country illegally.
The answer? Makeshift internment camps for non-Mexican detainees. These camps, like the one pictured here in Raymondville, Texas, are Kevlar tents erected on cement slabs. The tent city is one of several strategies the United States has embarked on to house apprehended undocumented residents. This includes an extensive prison building and contracting campaign, increasing the number of illegal immigrants detained from 19,718 a day in 2005 to about 26,500 now, and a projected 32,000 this summer.
Why is the Bush administration anxious to apprehend undocumented residents now (when they have essentially ignored them for most of the Presidents two terms)? Apparently, the President believes that the government must convince skeptics that it can credibly enforce laws aimed at illegal immigrants and their employers, and can hold and deport those caught by the U.S. Border Patrol in order to get support for comprehensive immigration reform. At the same time, the administration and its allies argue that even additional detention beds will be overwhelmed without new channels for legal immigration.
It is an interesting strategy, and an abysmal one for those who are apprehended. The conditions in the detention camps vary widely, and there are widespread reports that many of those interned are living under deplorable conditions.
The government is also exceptionally quiet about the costs of this program. One can only imagine that funding this detention program must be exorbitant, as many of the detainees are expected to be held for months, if not years.