At ‘Holiday on ICE’ Hearing, Title Becomes a Heated Issue

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Republicans in Congress on Wednesday derided the Obama administration’s plans to improve conditions for immigrants in detention, likening the reforms to an all-expenses-paid vacation in a hearing titled “Holiday on ICE.”

Democrats and immigration reform advocates, however, questioned the pun-laden title of the hearing, saying it made light of serious problems within the nation’s immigration detention facilities.

Republicans, who are in charge of the House, called the hearing about a month after the administration released its most recent set of detention standards — written by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) — intended to reduce incidents of sexual abuse, as well as provide better medical care and a less restrictive setting for civil offenders. ICE made the changes after coming under pressure by media and immigrant advocacy groups.

GOP members said in the hearing before a House immigration subcommittee the new guidelines went too far.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the “new detention manual reads more like a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.” Smith said he was concerned about the cost of applying the changes, and added that an expanded complaint system was biased against ICE officers.

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