Go after real criminals instead: Gregory Pratt should be commended for an excellent article exposing the hardships of immigration detention ("Huddled Masses," June 23).
In my newly released book, My Trials: What I Learned in Immigration Court, I expose many of the same things and call for massive reform of the immigration court system.
Migrant workers and common laborers should not be detained. [The federal government should] prioritize and go after criminals and absconders.
Paul Grussendorf, retired immigration judge, Washington
Mr. Hyperbole: Mr. Pratt would serve justice much better if he could grasp the definition of criminal behavior. Pratt is a disgrace to Americans.
Michael Hale, Canton, Texas
The original aliens: Native Americans and Mexicans in the Southwest — back before it was attached violently by the United States — used to have a name for illegal aliens: white people.
Anthony Enriquez, Phoenix
So, you don't think detained immigrants are political prisoners?: Your headline calls the jails you cite in your story "gulags." Let me explain something to you fuzzy-headed liberals: "Gulags" are death camps that the Soviets used to throw political prisoners into.
Even the Pinal County Jail, which you cite as the worst for illegal-alien detainees, is hardly a "gulag." I suspect those political prisoners in Siberia would've felt that they were on the French Riviera if they'd been transported to the PCJ.
James Hardy, Phoenix
Hardened conditions for civil violators: As prisons go, the ones you write about — even the Pinal County Jail — aren't that bad. The problem is, putting civil violators in a gulag fit for hardened criminals (the PC Jail) is just plain wrong.
And, as you point out, that the civil violators are treated worse than those charged with serious crimes makes the situation beyond what a civilized society should tolerate.
Juan Ybarra, Glendale
Unreasonable treatment for non-violent offenders: Your story made an interesting point: Illegal aliens held in federal prisons are treated much worse than hardened criminals.
That is, the murders, rapists, and armed robbers held in the Pinal County Jail, under contract with the federal government, get to go outside, while the immigrants, held for civil violations, are imprisoned for years indoors.
The photo you ran with your story, the one showing the immigrant prisoners trying to crowd into a tiny sliver of sunlight, was worth 10,000 words.
Andrew Williams, Phoenix
You're welcome: Thanks, New Times, for being unafraid to tell the truth about the way undocumented aliens are treated by federal and local governments. It is truly unconscionable.
For you to continually tell it like it is about the situation — in the midst of so many angry and violent rednecks in Arizona — displays a particular kind of courage.
Keep up the good work. You are all that the righteous in this wasteland can count on.
Marie Vinson, Tucson
They are not leeches: We don't give aid to unauthorized immigrants for college; we don't give them medical insurance; we don't give them food stamps. But, yes, we do allow their children to go to school.
The truth, as admitted to by the George W. Bush Administration, is that "illegals" pay more into the system in taxes (for which they get no refunds) than they take out in social services. They are not leeches.
They do cost us a lot more due to non-social-service expenses, such as law enforcement and border patrol, but, again, they are not leeches. They pay in more than they take out. Just ask W.
The problem with America is that [certain] people would rather argue about pretend problems than working on the real problems.
This story is about people whose status as legal or illegal immigrants has not been determined.
Kit Carson, Phoenix
Steve knows so much: Liberal, biased media here. How do you think the Mexican government treats American citizens that are in Mexico illegally?
These illegals in America are in Shangri-La compared to how Americans are treated in Mexico. Besides, [you write about] the ones who think, in their warped way, they have some right to be in America — even though they are not legal.
Steve Golf, city unavailable
How soon we forget: We should all be ashamed of what has happened to this country, which was built on the backs of immigrants. How soon we forget.
The business of incarceration: I think most rational human beings will agree that conditions for anyone detained or incarcerated in the jail/prison system are unfair and, most often, inhumane.
The court system is overly complex because of unjust verdicts handed down by judges and services performed by inept lawyers resulting in a seemingly infinite amount of appeals. The United States seems to want endless amounts of people to be inmates.
The laws are written with ridiculous amounts of incarceration as punishment for violations. It does nothing to deter people from violating laws.
The conditions described for illegals in [federal custody in Arizona] are no different for the citizens in jail. The citizens are refused medical care just as often and for the same reasons as the illegals.
Fight for all these things to be changed for all inmates. When you are inside, you are all equal — imprisoned.
No one should be in jail for being somewhere that others have determined they should not be.
All this discussion [about illegal immigration] is distraction and misdirection from the real issues. It's like treating cancer by treating the symptoms instead of the cause.