The Republicans’ culture wars are coming to a head.
Late last month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released new health and safety standards for immigration detainment facilities, which now include things like better health treatment and permission to adhere to dietary restrictions. The stricter standards reflect the fact that 400,000 people each year—including asylum seekers, trafficking victims, families with children, the elderly, and the sick—are jailed while they await immigration court proceedings, and there have been past detainees who have died from neglect or been sexually abused by guards.
It seems even these changes were too much for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who apparently does not believe that a government should bear any responsibility for those it detains or jails.
“The Obama administration’s new detention manual is more like a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants,” Smith wrote in a statement. “The administration goes beyond common sense to accommodate illegal immigrants and treats them better than citizens in federal custody.”
Yes. Treating detainees more humanely is equivalent to putting them up in a five-star hotel.
It gets worse. Among the new health standards are new provisions for transgender immigrant detainees, ensuring that they are detained with the gender they identify with and allowing them access to hormone therapy and other necessary medical care. Anti-gay conservatives promptly blasted the new standards, saying they were “bad, radical social policy” and a “trial balloon” for Obamacare.
And some days ago, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council appeared on Fox News to fully enjoin the Republican war against women with the Republican war against immigrants. Accusing ICE of providing free abortions without restrictions and funding “cross dressing,” he said:
PERKINS: As we saw the mandate that just came down on contraception, this will be another mandate that will be included in the Obamacare. Because HHS can write the rules, and they’re going to see how far they can push this. [...]
KELLY: But in defense of the administration, what are they supposed to do? If they have an illegal immigrant in custody and she, she is, she needs an abortion to save her life –
PERKINS: Well, if that’s the case — it’s the terminology here. You never need an abortion to save the life of a mother.
PERKINS: The mother is the primary patient. If you’re working to save the life of the mother and the child dies, that’s not an abortion….You talk about the issue of rape, that’s such a small percentage of pregnancies that are out there. Plus, how do you verify that that, in fact, is the case? That it’s a case of rape? Again, this comes down to government funds being used to advance radical social policy that is masquerading as health care.
Watch the video here:
We’ll leave it to Think Progress to highlight the obvious ironies behind Perkins’ statement:
Rather than advancing a social policy (as Perkins himself is doing), the government is paying for services that are deemed medically necessary for the health of the detainee…The government isn’t interfering in the relationship between the detainee and their doctor, but ensuring that the United States adhere to the accepted standards of treating all with humanity and proper medical care. That’s a cause that any “values” organization should be able to rally behind.