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Report highlights problems in immigration detention system

For many immigrants in Florida, worries about detention may loom large. An increasing amount of attention has been drawn to detention and deportation due to the shifting immigration policies of the Trump administration, even as migrant justice advocates have been working for years to change the conditions and reduce the usage of detention for immigrants.

The California Department of Justice issued a report dealing with immigration detention facilities in its state and noted serious problems, including a lack of access to medical health care, especially mental health treatment, barriers to accessing legal counsel and major language problems and a lack of translation. Advocates noted that while immigration detention facilities are not prisons, their effect on the people held there can be essentially the same. In addition, barriers to securing legal representation can be particularly challenging as the immigration law system can be confusing.

The report was released after a bill passed the state legislature in 2017 that required reports on the standard of care and conditions of confinement at these facilities. The state hosts the second highest number of immigrants across the country, and those statistics are reflected in detention as well. In many cases, people are detained not because they are considered dangerous or a flight risk but simply because they cannot afford to pay a cash bond amount. Many recently arrived asylum seekers are also held in detention despite the fact that they are often fleeing persecution and severe trauma. Advocates urged a change in policy toward asylum seekers that is welcoming rather than punitive.

An immigrant may be concerned about the risks of detention if they are facing difficulties with their status. An immigration lawyer can help someone affected by these policies defend against deportation and fight to stay in the country.