Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sun Sentinel - Illegal immigrants bitch about being locked up for being illegal.

I agree. If they are proven illegal, kick them out the damn country. They are illegal. But the Sun Sentinel puts up a sob story about how they are being detained because they are illegal.

Commonly known by the abbreviation BTC, the two-story center, painted bright pink, sits behind a wall on Powerline Road, next to an animal shelter and across the street from a massive landfill.

The facility is owned and run by The GEO Group Inc., one of the nation's leading private prison operators.

GEO "has provided high quality residential, medical and programming services in a safe and secure environment to detainees" at BTC for more than a decade, the company said in a statement to the Sun Sentinel when asked to comment on the letter from U.S. lawmakers.

On any given day, the center can house 595 men and 105 women under terms of a federal contract worth more than $20 million annually.

It's the only immigration detention center in Florida run by a private company — a distinction that has brought it special scrutiny and concern.

"I think that this place is systematically set up to keep these women here — and on the men's side, the men — because there's money being made in this place," detainee Viridiana Martinez told the radio program Democracy Now! in a phone call in July from inside. "This place is owned by a company, GEO. And every time someone is detained, they are given money."

Martinez was one of the two young illegal immigrants who purposefully got themselves detained at BTC last summer to draw attention to the situation inside.

The government holds foreigners accused of violating immigration law, in order to process and ensure their deportation. Some people are confined for weeks or months while they work to gather information to prove they have the right to stay in the United States or while they challenge their deportation through an overburdened legal system.

Complaints from detainees and their lawyers about BTC focus on claims of substandard medical care, prolonged stays, detainees' depression, unappetizing food and insufficient legal representation.

"It's bad," Juan Pablo Alvarez Castaneda, a 21-year-old who spent five months at BTC, said in an interview. "For me it was like a year. The days go slow, slow."

He was sent to the facility after ICE stopped him at Miami International Airport as he was returning from a visit to Colombia, his native country.

Though he had been in the U.S. since 2007 on a conditional green card that he obtained through marriage to an American, he was judged "inadmissible" because of a July 2011 arrest in Hialeah for marijuana possession — his only brush with the law.

Castaneda was held at BTC until lawyers he hired persuaded a judge to reopen the marijuana case, and the state dropped the charges.

Many other detained immigrants, Castaneda said, also pose no threat to the public.

He said one man was held at BTC after he couldn't produce identification to buy a pack of cigarettes, raising the suspicions of a government agent in line next to him.

Another was arrested for misusing 911 by repeatedly calling about a neighbor's alleged threats.

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