The Hill reports on October 16 that ten Senators have spoken out against the Obama administration's detention policies affecting women and children fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a letter to DHS Secretary Johnson, the Senators, Patrick Leahy (VT), Harry Reid (NV), Dick Durbin (IL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Patty Murray (WA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Bob Menendez (NJ), Michael Bennet (CO), Mazie Hirono (HI) and Mark Udall (CO), said:

"...they are concerned about the physical safety and due process rights of the women and children that [sic] would be detained at a new detention facility [to be built in Dilley, Texas.]"

The Hill also refers to reports of substandard conditions and sexual assault at other centers. The letter from the ten Senators says:

"Mothers and their children who have fled violence in their home countries should not be treated like criminals...They have come seeking refuge from three of the most dangerous countries in the world, countries where women and girls face shocking rates of domestic violence and murder."

The Senators' letter also states:

"We have heard significant concerns regarding the conditions of confinement and obstacles to due process for detainees...We are troubled by your apparent decision to make permanent and greatly expand the policy of family detention against the backdrop of these problems."

It is refreshing to see that some Senators are standing up for immigrants' human and legal rights, while others continue to demonize immigrants as carriers of disease. The Hill, for example, also quotes Senator Pat Roberts (Kansas) as saying on October 15:

"We [have] ISIS. We have Ebola. We have to secure the border. And we cannot have amnesty."

No one can argue with the seriousness of Ebola and the need to protect America against its spread. However, not counting a very few people who were intentionally repatriated for treatment, there have been exactly three cases of this deadly disease in the US - one case for every one hundred million people living in this country.

There is no justification, especially on the part of some lawmakers who voted to shut down the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last year (along with the rest of the government), for using appeals to fear and prejudice as an excuse to turn away from focusing on the legal and human rights of immigrants, which should rightly be at the front and center of all discussion of this issue. This is a concern which transcends party affiliation, ethnic background and other divisions which may exist among America's many diverse population groups.
Roger Algase is a New York Attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been serving employment-based and family-based immigrants from many parts of the world and helping them accomplish their dreams of living and working in America. Roger welcomes questions or comments posted on this site or addressed to him directly at his email,