I applaud the editorial condemning the abuses at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma and the conclusion that the profit motive is at the heart of the abuses [“Spotlight on troubled Tacoma ICE detention center,” Opinion, June 3]. The Seattle Times’ statement that detention centers are necessary is questionable, however.
As The Times points out, the purpose of these immigration prisons is to hold people whose immigration status is being determined, not to punish people who have committed crimes and are considered dangerous. People do not need to be held during this time, and the time it takes to get a determination is increasing.
The immigration legal system is broken. The chronic shortage of immigration judges has created delays of months before the first appearance, while people charged with serious crimes in the criminal justice system must appear before a judge in a matter of hours. This year, nearly half of the immigration judges will be eligible for retirement, creating even more serious delays.
About 45 days ago there was a major glitch in the national computer system that serves the immigration courts, which still has not been resolved and is creating further delays. We must work toward eliminating this un-American practice of imprisoning people without due process.
Jolinda Stephens, Tacoma