JUST HOW BAD ARE IMMIGRATION DETENTION FACILITIES? MAYBE NOT SO TERRIBLE: If the allegations of sexual abuse, pepper spraying, and racial slurs made in connection with this lawsuit on behalf of Somali and other African detainees are true, the responsible parties obviously need to be punished. The allegations are serious.
But I have to say that when I toured the Karnes immigration detention center a few years ago for the Commission on Civil Rights, it was … well … pretty nice—decorated with pictures of rainbows, SpongeBob SquarePants, etc. Even the members of the Commission’s Progressive Caucus seemed surprised. The Port Isabel facility that we toured the next day was not as attractive. Still, the detainees seemed satisfied with their treatment. One told us (in Spanish) that if they let him out on Sundays, he wouldn’t mind staying indefinitely. I couldn’t help but like the guy. Unlike my current gentleman friend, he’d probably be willing to eat my pot roast without complaining.
Unfortunately, long before the Commission began taking evidence for its report, it had committed itself to the conclusion that these facilities were hellholes. As I hope I demonstrated in my 56-page dissent, the allegations that made it into the report were based mainly on feverish hearsay-upon-hearsay, much of it provably false. They weren’t based on anything we actually saw.