New York, NY –
Immigration officials have outlined a series of steps to transform immigration detention from a criminal to a civil system and improve conditions at detention centers.
Local reaction to today's announcement has been cautiously optimistic. Amy Gottlieb is the regional director of the Immigrant Rights Program for the American Friends Service Committee:
GOTTLIEB: We hope to be able to insure that people have access to attorneys, that they have access to visits from their families, that they have access to medical care. That if there are violations that there will be a grievance process that will be a meaningful one, that has some teeth to it.
Gottlieb says the majority of detained immigrants in the tri-state area are brought to one of New Jersey's seven facilities.
The group Detention Watch Network reports there are currently about 23 detention facilities in New York and New Jersey.
The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, says redesigning immigration detention to make it more accountable and uniform will take several years. Meanwhile, he says, the agency will continue to detain people and do so on a large scale.