by Laura Camilo
In the early hours of the morning, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested five men in Charlotte whom they suspected of being in the country illegally, as reported by The Charlotte Observer.The ICE team initially set out to arrest two men who had been charged with drug and burglary offenses and were undocumented. One of the men they were looking for is Santiago Villeda-Ramirez, a convicted drug trafficker in Idaho during the 1990s.
Agents never found their target, but they arrested two other men who lived in the apartment. One was the target's brother, Francisco Villeda-Briseno, who admitted to agents he was in the country illegally.
"I came here to work, not sell drugs," Villeda-Briseno, 41, said in handcuffs"
Agents had been led to the Pinetree apartment, they said, because their target had used his brother's identity during a previous arrest. Now the brother faces possible deportation, while the man they targeted has reportedly returned to Mexico.
If Villeda-Brisenos story checks out, he can at least look forward to the possibility of reformed immigration detention. The 30,000-bed detention system is currently holding immigrants awaiting deportation proceedings and those seeking asylum in prison-like facilities, "complete with razor wire, jail-style uniforms, armed guards and partitions that prevent physical contact with loved ones," according to the Washington Post article. The articles goes on to say that immigrant detainees who are in custody under civil immigration charges and not criminal offenses
...could soon be held in facilities where they can wear their own clothes, participate in movie and bingo nights, eat continental breakfasts, and celebrate holidays with visiting family members.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest contractor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has reached a preliminary agreement to soften confinement, free of charge, at nine immigrant facilities covering at least 7,100 beds - a deal that ICE officials see as a precursor to changes elsewhere.
If, however, Villeda-Briseno is indeed found guilty of drug trafficking or of having a criminal record in general, he will join other convicts who will likely remain in a prison-like setting, according to ICE Director John Morton.
Restructuring housing policies for detainees could very well serve to reform public opinion concerning undocumented immigrants. These budding changes underline the fact that the ICE does not consider someone a criminal due solely to migratory status; rather, a person must commit legal infractions once in the country in order to be registered as a criminal.