Do You Feel Safer?

Last week, the U.S. government announced the release of hundreds of immigration “detainees”, supposedly because during the fiscal “sequester” it will cost too much to keep them.

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Immigration civil “detainees” in a windowless former warehouse in Elizabeth, NJ.  Yes, the short people are children.  Convicted criminals often are treated better than these innocents.

Average detention cost is $119 to $164 per person per day ($43,000 to $60,000 per year).  A nice hotel — or private college tuition, fees, clothes, books, room and board! — would be cheaper and more humane. The Feds themselves say supervised release costs as little as 18 cents per day.

We won’t spend the big money on those released detainees this week.  Whose bright idea was it to spend it last week?

The Feds correctly insist that the people released aren’t dangerous.

First, immigration detainees are not criminals. Even the ex-cons among them completed their sentences and paid their debt.  In fairness, they should be considered square with the house.

Second, there are plenty of good detainees to release.  No bureaucrat will risk her job by freeing bad ones.  Nannies and busboys may walk; “coyotes” and people with violent pasts will not.

Third, we know whereof we speak.  Jeffrey, Nancy and their children have welcomed former immigration prisoners as houseguests. Refugees from Lebanon, Iran, Algeria, Somalia, went straight from jail to the family’s guestroom and dinner table.  Such detainees are less dangerous than your random American.

Why, then, do we spend $2 billion per year to jail them and others like them?

Consider:

This Tibetan nun, Ngawang, persecuted in China, escaped to India. Scary woman, huh?  (Not.)

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Ngawang found refuge in India.

One of her sister nuns (no photo available) fled to the United States. Federal immigration officers sent her to a rural county jail. Why? Because the Feds pay county jails to hold non-criminal foreigners.

Local jailers love it.  Refugees are quiet and the nuns among them don’t eat much.  The county profits.

A volunteer lawyer took the nun’s case.  Eventually an immigration judge granted asylum. Then she was freed, right?

Not so fast. The Feds appealed the asylum grant. Pending appeal — which takes months unless it takes years — they kept the nun in jail.

The locals protested. “Let her stay with us, we’ll pay her keep, we’ll bring her to court.”

Nope. Jail cells don’t rent without bodies to fill them. The prison-industrial complex needs a market for its goods and services. Bureaucrats gain when their staffs and budgets grow. Forget justice and common sense.  Remember money, status, power.

Detention truths don’t impress House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R, Virginia) and his ilk.  He was hopping up and down last week, decrying the release of “criminal immigrants onto the streets.” Except they’re not criminals. And each costs more per day in jail than the average American earns.  Seems like Mr. Goodlatte is ignorant. Or cruel.  Or lying to get the Yahoo vote.

Now that you know whom the Feds released last week — non-criminals, vetted for docility and compliance — do you feel safer? You should!

Now that you know whom the Feds have been jailing, some of them for years, in your name and at your expense — do you feel abused by puffed-up bureaucrats, business greed, and demagogues thumping for votes? You should!

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