Tacoma Congressman Leads Immigration Charge

August 17, 2015 4:46 am
by David Jakeman

When Tacoma Immigration attorneys hear the name Adam Smith, they probably start thinking about “invisible hands.”1 But these days, there’s another Adam Smith making waves, and he does care about something that is invisible; it just happens to be the number of undocumented immigrants facing mistreatment in the Northwest Detention Center.

Smith’s Record

Smith has been focusing quite a bit of time on the subject of immigration detention policies in the past few months. The subject is a big issue for him because the Northwest Detention Center is literally in his congressional district’s backyard. The second reason he’s focusing on it is that his district is made up of many immigrants, some of whom have family members or friends who are living in fear of the immigration policies and the detention center. The center has been the subject of much controversy recently, and immigrant rights advocates have organized public rallies and lobbying campaigns to make the issue more prominent in the public’s eye.

For Smith, the detention centers represent a bastion of perverse self interest. Ironically, this privatization that many fans of the late economist Adam Smith might support has actually created a system where private companies get paid based on the number of people they are detaining. This has created very powerful and rich interest groups who have a vested interest in keeping places like the Northwest Detention Center open. It’s almost like giving a company a cushy government job that then empowers it to help lobby and influence legislation.

Smith’s Recommendations

Smith believes that many immigrants and families would be better served by creating a home-monitoring option. For immigrants who are not a flight risk, they can stay in their communities and with their families. This would create greater security and stability for not just themselves but for wider swaths of the immigration population. It should also make those concerned about big government happy, because it would lead to a significant reduction in spending.

Allowing for a home-monitoring program would also reduce the burden on families who have had a relative sent to a detention center. Sometimes undocumented immigrants are sent to detention centers very far away from where their families live, making it difficult, if not impossible, to visit. If they have been working with an immigration attorney in another area, such a move can disrupt their working relationship, or make it more difficult to continue working on their case together.

At the moment, Smith is also working on a bill that would allow for greater protections and transparencies for those with relatives being held in immigration detention centers. Many complaints about immigration detention center transparency and abuse need to be taken seriously. Smith is hoping to build bipartisan support to help protect immigrants and their families.2

It is possible that Smith’s recommendations could hurt the business of Tacoma immigration attorneys who are located closer to the Northwest Detention Center. The important issue at hand here is whether or not undocumented immigrants are receiving humane and professional treatment, both of which have been seen as lacking in recent months. One can only hope that Smith will bring attention to the numbers of invisible hands, and hearts, being hurt in this wider immigration mess.


1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_hand
2 http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/05/31/3817988/qa-congressman-adam-smith-talks.html

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