House Republicans are balking at reforms that aim to make living conditions at detention centers for undocumented immigrants less hellish, claiming in a hearing on Wednesday that the detention center rape prevention efforts were actually rewarding undocumented women by sending them on a cushy taxpayer-funded holiday. They do have a point. If you asked a woman — undocumented or otherwise — to describe her dream luxury vacation, "not getting raped" would likely be an important component.
The hearing, startling in its insensitivity and tone-deafness even in an era characterized by conservative fuckery, was dubbed "Holidays on I.C.E." by committee chairman Llamar Smith of Texas. Get it? Because being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials is like going to Disneyland, except instead of going on any of the rides, Mickey Mouse punches you in the face while Goofy takes pictures and then Donald Duck strip searches you.
According to Mother Jones, the hearing focused on reforms to ICE detention centers proposed by the Obama administration in response to well-documented subhuman conditions at detention centers. One facility in Texas was forced to close its doors after allegations of widespread sexual assault and inedible food surfaced. In response, the administration proposed reforms to ICE centers that were announced in February. Among them are giving detainees access to mental health care and the ability to report abuse via a dedicated hotline. The new guidelines also require that any strip searches at ICE facilities be conducted by guards of the same gender.
See? It's exactly like The Four Seasons.
Republicans on the committee are disgusted by the notion that undocumented immigrants in detention centers deserve to be held in conditions slightly nicer than those that can be found in most no-kill animal shelters with cutesy pun-based names like "Anything is PAWSible!" or "Kitten Caboodle." Rep. Llamar Smith said that under the proposed new conditions, "detention looks more like recess." Rep. Elton Gallegy of California called the reforms "outrageous," and said that ICE detention centers had morphed into college campuses. And Iowa's Steve King got in on the "do Republicans realize that there is such thing as the internet?" action by noting that the fact that 110 immigrants who have died while awaiting deportation doesn't merit reform, because 110 people is not very many people. Especially since undocumented immigrants are totally not "people;" they're like quarterpeople.
One Democrat on the committee took offense to the assertion that rape prevention programs are luxurious spa perks. "I don't think that it's a 'hospitality' guideline to prevent rape of detainees," California's Zoe Lofgren said.
This whole debacle reminds me of the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, but make sure they know that when they get here they might get raped and no one will care." Brings a patriotic tear to my eye.
House GOP: Rape prevention measures an unreasonable luxury [Mother Jones]