Bingo, cooking class and yoga - just a few of the activities illegal immigrants waiting to be deported may soon enjoy and it's something one local Congressman is fighting.
U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray wants the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to clarify changes that would "soften" illegal immigration detention facilities in an effort to make the detention centers more humane. Among the centers run by the Corrections Corporation of America targeted for the new program is one located in Otay Mesa in southern San Diego county.
Bilbray, along with 18 other members of Congress, sent a letter to the DHS, saying that while they agree detainees should be treated with, "respect", they're worried the new provisions and costs will fall back onto taxpayers.
"The federal government doesn't pay for Grandma and Grandpa to get these kinds of accommodations," said Bilbray. "I'd be damned if we ought to be talking about providing that for someone who is waiting for deportation."
"This is exactly the kind of message you don't want to send that people that are illegal in the United States are entitled to treatment better than U.S. citizens," he said.
In response, Lauren Mack with ICE wrote," These reforms have been offered by ICE contractor CCA for consideration by ICE. They are currently being evaluated and have not been implemented. Any such reforms will not be funded at additional taxpayers expense. ICE is committed to making sensible reforms to its non-criminal detention system and will continue to consider reasonable approaches that seek to achieve those goals."
"No one can tell me with a straight face that these accommodations are not being paid by the taxpayers," Bilbray said.
The proposals also include eliminating lockdowns, allowing visitors to stay 12 hours at a time and letting low-risk detainees wear personal clothing.