WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2013 – CAMBIO, the Campaign for an Accountable, Moral, and Balanced Immigration Overhaul, released a statement this afternoon as the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to work through amendments to S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, this week:
Laura Murphy, Director of the Washington Legislative Office, American Civil Liberties Union
“Today’s markup session was proof positive that the tide is turning away from anti-immigrant sentiment and toward a future where we recognize the contributions of all who live in this great nation. We remain optimistic that the spirit of compromise shown by the ‘Gang of Eight’ will hold strong and that the bill’s civil liberties protections will be strengthened in markup the rest of the week.”
Margaret Huang, Executive Director, Rights Working Group
“We are pleased that S. 744 includes language prohibiting racial profiling, because there have been numerous allegations of racial and religious profiling raised in the context of immigration enforcement and border security. Today, CAMBIO was happy to see Grassley Amendment 49 defeated as it would have allowed for profiling on the basis of national origin. Law enforcement agencies and human rights advocates agree that racial profiling is an ineffective tool, and Senator Grassley’s amendment would have allowed this profiling to take place. We hope that the Judiciary Committee members will continue to oppose amendments that would allow profiling, including Senator Graham’s Amendment 3 which would allow the Department of Homeland Security to discriminate against aspiring citizens based on national origin. We expect that vote later tonight and we call on all Senators to vote against it.”
Paromita Shah, Associate Director of the National Immigration Project, National Lawyers Guild
“We commend the Senate Judiciary Committee for defeating many pernicious amendments today that criminalize immigrants and attack fundamental due process protections. But the Committee, by a near unanimous vote, also passed an expansion of aggravated felony offenses – charges that are often neither aggravated nor felonies but keep individuals from having their cases considered and heard before a judge. This rolls back critical due process safeguards and is contradictory to fundamental American values. We cannot and will not support hard line proposals that take away discretion and limit an individual’s ability to pursue the pathway to citizenship. It is critical that the Committee and the full Senate protect due process in the immigration bill as it is the cornerstone of the American justice system.”
Andrea Black, Executive Director, Detention Watch Network
“CAMBIO applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee for standing up for the rights of immigrants held in jails across the United States. Committee members voted against attempts by Senators Grassley and Sessions to strip critical provisions of the bill that will reduce the suffering of immigrants in detention and lower costs to taxpayers. CAMBIO further commends Senator Blumenthal for his successful effort to limit the use of solitary confinement in detention.”
CAMBIO is a diverse group of organizations advocating for laws and policies that create a fair system for immigrants to become citizens; bans indefinite detention; guarantees due process for everyone in the United States; makes enforcement systems accountable; protects civil and human rights; encourages a better border to protect the quality of life in the borderlands, prevents the abuse of vulnerable Americans; and keeps families together. CAMBIO’s members include American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Regional Center for Border Rights, the Border Network for Human Rights, Detention Watch Network, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, National Domestic Workers Alliance, the National Guestworker Alliance, the National Immigration Law Center, Rights Working Group, Southern Border Communities Coalition, Immigrant Justice Network, and Northern Borders Coalition.
More information about CAMBIO can be found on the web at www.CAMBIO-US.org and on Twitter @CAMBIOtoday.
CONTACT:Ravi Ragbir (English) 917.566.4816 Rev. Fabian Arias 646.244.5404 (Spanish) or Juan Carlos Ruiz (English/Spanish) 347.369.1959 Local leaders, Immigration Organizations and International Faith Leaders meet to discuss the 22,000 kidnapping and 70,000 disappearances that have occurred on the US/Mexican Border The New Sanctuary Movement NY cordially invites you to join us in supporting the Caravan led by Fr. Solalinde, clergy and family members of kidnapped and disappeared immigrants. Photographic exhibition, food and a fundraiser show by “Jarana Beat”(May 22nd.) and Chicha Libre (May 25th.) Will follow the presentations. “Our hope lies in appealing to our common humanity by opening the doors to hope and walking together to make the difference.”
On Thursday May 23,2013 at Federal Plaza, Fr. Solalinde, director of the “Brotherhood of the Road” shelter in Oaxaca, Mexico will be speaking about the humanitarian crisis happening along the most dangerous migration paths in the world. The route where 22,000 immigrants have been kidnapped and 70,000 have disappeared in their attempt to reach the US-Mexico border. He will be addressing the failure of the Obama administration in stopping US military weapons in reaching Mexican drug cartels, responsible for human trafficking and kidnappings. Relatives of disappeared Central American immigrants will share their testimonies.
The Caravan will be arriving to NYC after traveling for 20 days across the country and meeting with immigrant rights organizations, publics officials and representatives of local governments across the country in an effort to demand the passage of a humane and comprehensive immigration reform.
WHO: The New Sanctuary Movement and the Caravan “Opening Doors to Hope.”
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Thursday, May 23rd. 11:00am to 12:30pm
WHERE: Federal Plaza
Our goal is to educate the public about how the effects of US Immigration policies trascends borders and creates a humanitarian crisis that feeds immigrants to drug cartels for human trafficking and profit. The dangerous working conditions that human rights defenders, such as Fr. Solalinde, faces in order to provide assistance and rescue immigrants from drug cartels armed with US military weapons. For more information visit us on
FaceBook: “Opening the doors to Hope” Caravan.
www.chipmigrante.org/press and www.newsanctuarynyc.org. ### The New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City is an interfaith network of congregations, organizations, and individuals, standing publicly in solidarity with families and communities resisting detention and deportation in order to stay together. We recognize that unjust global and systemic economic relationships and racism form the basis of the injustices that affect immigrants. We seek reform of United States immigration laws to promote fairness, social and economic justice.
(La información es Español sigue después de la de Inglés).Schedule of Events:
We are calling on all our allies to join us on a fast beginning on Sunday May 19th to Wednesday May 22nd. to solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the caravan who will be lobbying in Washington on Monday May 21th and Tuesday May 21st On Wednesday May 22nd we will break the fast as we welcome the Caravan in NYC. Wednesday: May 22, 2013
–there is an exhibit from May 21st. to the 26th. of May at the Church.
7:00pm Mass/breaking of the fast
Concert: Jarana Beat and Food
Thursday: May 23, 2013
9:00am Breakfast Where: Church of St. Ann and Holy Trinity, 157 Montague St. Brooklyn, NY 11201
10:00am Walking on the Brooklyn Bridge to Federal Plaza
11:00am Press Conference
11:30am Jericho Walk
12:30pm Walking to the Park
1:00pm Zuccotti Park/Lunch
4:30pm Departure to Sion Lutheran / Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church
619 Lexington Ave, NY NY 10022(cor. 54th St.)
7:00pm Forum: update and forging a new narrative of migration
(Sion/St Peter’s Lutheran Church)
9:00pm Departure to hosts’ sites
***Lunch bags need to be provided
Friday: May 24, 2013
9:00 am Breakfast (each host site).
11:00am Departure to Detention Centers (NJ)
12:00pm Arrival in NJ
Saturday: May 25, 2013
Getting to know your neighbor/building a transnational platform-globalizing hope.
6:00pm Sion Church (breaking bread, reflection)
Food: provided by the St. Jacobi’s Church
7:00pm Concert: Chicha Libre and others
Sion/Saint Peter Lutheran Church
Sunday: May 26, 2013
1:30pm Mass for the dignity of all people
Sion/ Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church
2:30pm Cultural event
5:00 Closing ceremony/Evaluation
By Lindsay Marshall. Reposted from azcentral.com
It is impossible to get into the mind of someone who chooses to take his or her own life and understand what led to that decision.
Suicides leave everyone asking questions with very few answers. And when a suicide takes place in a more public arena, these questions become broader and more urgent for us all.
Earlier this month, in the space of just a few days, two people in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement separately took their own lives by hanging themselves.
Elsa Guadalupe-Gonzales, 24, and Jorge Garcia-Mejia, 40, were detained at Arizona’s remote Eloy Detention Center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, and were in legal proceedings relating to their right to stay lawfully in the United States.
Both were from Guatemala and approaching their 40th day in detention.
The Florence Project had not met with Guadalupe-Gonzalez but was scheduled to meet with Garcia-Mejia, on the day he took his life, to screen him for legal relief and orient him to the Immigration Court process.
While it’s intrusive to try to create a narrative around the deaths of these two people, suicides in detention can symbolically force us to look at the larger issues around them because they both were in federal custody as a part of our immigration-enforcement practices.
If we can’t figure out why they may have taken their own lives, we at least have a moral obligation to ask what treatment and conditions may have made their situations worse.
The dark truth is that I am surprised more men and women don’t take their lives in immigration detention.
Whether inside the Eloy Detention Center or in any of the other hundreds of prisons, county jails and detention facilities that ICE uses to detain immigrants around the country, there are human beings who are suffering every day.
They are locked up and separated from their families, and they don’t know when their time in detention will end. They are facing deportation, often to a place where they have been victimized, abused, persecuted or tortured and, if they are longer-term residents in the United States, they face permanent exile from their families and lives in this country.
None has the right to legal counsel, despite facing complex legal proceedings. They have very little power to advocate for their interests.
It is long past the time when we should collectively examine the immigration detention system in the United States and ask whether it is worth the cost.
There are incredibly persuasive arguments that the detention system is not worth the financial cost to taxpayers, but these deaths underscore that we must also recognize the human cost.
Not only are these two suicides devastating for the victims and their families, they impact the other immigrants locked inside, the officers who work in the detention centers, the staffs of organizations like the Florence Project who are trying to help them, and the medical responders who come to their aid.
If we don’t have answers, let’s at least ask the question of whether this is necessary and whether it reflects the kind of country we want to be.
Lindsay Marshall is executive director of the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project and a member of the national Detention Watch Network.
The immigration debate has been evolving rapidly. The latest information is that the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss detention, criminalization and interior enforcement provisions in the bill on Monday May 20th.
We encourage you to make calls TODAY and TOMORROW to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to urge them to oppose the amendments that would further harm immigrants in detention and support amendments that would further critical detention reforms.
We are particularly concerned about Grassley Amendment 53 which would dramatically expand immigration detention during removal proceedings and indefinitely afterwards for those who cannot be removed as well as severely limit the use of alternatives to detention and bond hearings. Passage of this amendment would be a huge setback to our collective efforts to dramatically reduce detention.
Please make calls TODAY and TOMORROW. They do make an impact!! Please also share this action alert widely with your networks and allies.
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!!
THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE WILL CONSIDER DETENTION RELATED AMENDMENTS TO THE IMMIGRATION BILL S. 744
MONDAY May 20th
Call Senators from the Judiciary Committee TODAY and TOMORROW
and ask them to:
OPPOSE DETRIMENTAL DETENTION AMENDMENTS
“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am calling to strongly urge Senator [NAME OF SENATOR] to OPPOSE Senator Grassley’s amendments 41, 47, 51 and 53 and Senator Sessions’ amendment 12. These amendments are too extreme and out-of-step with the bipartisan spirit of S.744.
SUPPORT FAVORABLE DETENTION AMENDMENTS
“I further strongly urge Senator [NAME OF SENATOR] to SUPPORT Senator Coons’ amendment 6 and Senator Blumenthal’s amendment 2. These amendments are easy fixes that address critical issues needed to reform the immigration detention system.”
[SEE LIST OF SENATORS AND PHONE NUMBERS BELOW]
DETRIMENTAL DETENTION AMENDMENTS
Grassley 41: Issue: This amendment strikes provision in bill that codifies the Office of Legal Access Programs and expands Legal Orientation Programs.
Grassley 47: Issue: This amendment strikes Section 3717, which provides for custody hearings for all detained immigrants and increases fairness of custody review and stipulated orders of removal procedures.
Grassley 51: This amendment strikes Section 3715, which directs DHS to create a secure alternatives program in every field office (including contracting with CBOs) and includes case management services. Section 3715 also requires DHS to make individualized assessments to determine level of supervision and to review the level of supervision monthly. It also permits secure alternatives to constitute custody in certain cases.
Grassley 53: Issue: This amendment expands immigration detention during removal proceedings and indefinitely afterwards for those who cannot be removed. Severely limits use of alternatives to detention and bond hearings.
Sessions 12: Issue: This amendment mandates bond levels of no less than $5,000 for nationals of non-contiguous countries, who have not been admitted or paroled, and who are apprehended within 100 miles of the border or present a flight risk as determined by ICE.
FAVORABLE DETENTION AMENDMENTS
Coons 6: Issue: This amendment requires interoperability of ICE, CIS, CBP, and EOIR databases containing information on all detainees. Specifies categories of information that must be maintained in the database of each agency and establishes regular reporting requirements to Congress. Makes reports available to public without FOIA request.
Blumenthal 2: Issue: This amendment restricts the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention and outlines guidelines and oversight for its use.
Contact the Senators below who are on the Judiciary Committee
Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA):
DC: (202) 224-3841
Senator Charles Schumer (NY):
DC: (202) 224-6542
Senator Dick Durbin (IL):
DC: (202) 224-2152
Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN):
DC: (202) 224-3244
Senator Orrin Hatch (UT):
DC: (202) 224-5251
Senator Lindsey Graham (SC):
DC: (202) 224-5972
Senator John Cornyn (TX):
DC: (202) 224-2934
Senator Mike Lee (UT):
DC: (202) 224-5444
Senator Jeff Flake (AZ):
DC: (202) 224-4521
The Jericho Walk is a walk of faith led by the New Sanctuary Faith Leaders, their congregants and their allies to highlight and bring attention to an immoral detention and deportation system. The present immigration policy is inhumane and unjust, with millions of people living in fear and hundreds of thousands deported.
This is a weekly vigil in New York City where we walk around the federal immigration building seven times, praying in silence for the right to remain with our families and communities.
On Thursday May 16 we will be in the Hart Senate Building in Washington, DC to pray, witness and to let them know that we are present as faith leaders, congregants, citizens and immigrants while the Judiciary Committee considers our fate. We will share and say a unity prayer during the walk to tear down the walls of injustice that separate us from a fair and humane immigration policy.
WHERE: Lutheran Church of the Reformation – 11:00am
: 212 East Capitol Street, Washington DC, 11:00 — gathering and logistics
: Hart Senate Building – 12:00 pm Jericho Walk
WHEN: Thursday May 16th 2013
JOIN US AS WE HEED THE CALL TO WELCOME THE STRANGER, TO PURSUE JUSTICE, AND TO EXPRESS OUR LOVE AND COMPASSION FOR ALL WHO LIVE AMONGST US.
If you cannot join us physically,
Pray with us as we walk from 12:00 – 1:30
GIVE US ALL THE RIGHT TO REMAIN IN JUSTICE AND IN TRUTH
Endorsers: Casa de Maryland, Center for Community Change, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Detention Watch Network. Building the World House
For more information contact: Ravi Ragbir at firstname.lastname@example.org or 347-651-0001.
DWN Urges Senate Judiciary Committee to Strike Down Sen. @ChuckGrassley’s Extremist Detention Amendments in Senate Immigration Bill
For Immediate Release: May 15, 2013520-240-3726, email@example.com Tina Posterli, 516-526-9371, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. – The markup of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act is expected to address amendments 41, 47, 51 and 53 put forth by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Thursday, May 16. Detention Watch Network (DWN) urges members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to strike down these draconian amendments that further destroy American values of fairness and due process.
“The Grassley amendments would essentially strip any positive detention provisions that are included in the current bill and instead expand inhumane policies like indefinite detention,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director of DWN. “The introduction of these amendments by Senator Grassley is a direct affront to years of advocacy to reform the immigration detention system, which operates with an arbitrary mandate of who should be detained and little oversight.”
While the bill is a far cry from true reform of the immigration system, DWN is encouraged to see that it would require Department of Homeland Security to consider the use of alternatives to detention for a broader category of immigrants, including those that are denied due process under mandatory detention. Currently, 70 percent of immigrants are in detention due to mandatory detention, which means that neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement nor any judge has the power to release them to their families and communities.
Just two weeks ago, two Guatemalan nationals committed suicide within a few days of each other at the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) run Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. The facility operates under outdated detention condition guidelines and has neglected to fully address over nine deaths that have occurred there since 2004. While the incident at Eloy is tragic, the situation there is exemplary of rampant conditions and staffing issues at detention centers across the country.
“The detention provisions currently outlined in the bill would limit the use of solitary confinement, provide access to legal information for all people in detention, and require more oversight of facilities, including those that are run by private prison companies like CCA” said Black. “Senator Grassley wants to thwart these potentially lifesaving reform efforts.”
For DWN’s statement on the bill please click here.
“Gang of 8” Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake: Release Immigrants from Eloy Detention Center and Close It Down!
Over a span of three days, Elsa Guadalupe-Gonzales and Jorge Garcia-Mejia committed suicide inside Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, a private facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Eloy Detention Center currently operates under outdated 2008 detention standards, has no independent oversight, and passed its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection despite having nine other known immigrant fatalities since 2004.
Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake, this is happening under your watch. We urge you to exercise your authority and demand that ICE immediately terminate its contract with the Eloy Detention Center. Immigrants in these facilities should be released and returned to their families and communities.
This is just one more example of the ongoing crisis in the U.S. immigration detention system: immigrants detained under the custody of the U.S. government are languishing in a system so massive and mismanaged that it has led to rampant due process violations and human rights abuses.
Congress and the Obama Administration have acknowledged that our immigration detention system is plagued with injustice and inefficiency. Meanwhile, ICE continues to detain more than 400,000 immigrants a year in prisons and jails, most of whom have no right to a hearing and no access to counsel.
Detention Watch Network urges Congress to repeal mandatory detention of immigrants and cut ties between the federal government and the private prison industry.
Senator John McCain, a member of the “Gang of 8” has received
Call Senator McCain and ask him to demand that ICE immediately terminate its contract with Eloy Detention Center, release immigrants from this facility and repeal mandatory detention.
Phoenix Office: (602) 952-2410
DC Office: (202) 224-2235
Senator Jeff Flake, a member of the “Gang of 8”
Call Senator Jeff Flake and ask him to demand that ICE immediately terminate its contract with Eloy Detention Center, release immigrants from this facility and repeal mandatory detention.
Phoenix Office: (602) 840-1891
DC Office: (202) 224-4521
In the Wake of Tragedy at Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center, Detention Watch Network Urges Congress to Repeal Mandatory Detention
Detention Watch Network mourns the loss of Elsa Guadalupe-Gonzales and Jorge Garcia-Mejia, immigrants who committed suicide last week at the Corrections Corporation of America operated Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the organization and its members are calling for Congress to repeal mandatory detention of immigrants through immigration reform and cut ties between the federal government and the private prison industry.
“These tragedies point to long-standing concerns reported by people detained at the Eloy facility, including inadequate medical and mental health care and punitive conditions,” said Alessandra Soler, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona. “Although ICE touts its detention reforms, people detained in Arizona continue to experience dangerous conditions that jeopardize their safety and well-being. ICE must make their review of these tragedies public and include a determination as to whether it was necessary for either of these individuals to have been in custody to begin with,” added Soler.
The Eloy Detention Center currently operates under 2008 detention standards, has no independent oversight, passed its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection despite having nine other known immigrant fatalities since 2004, and is part of a billion-dollar private prison industry, which houses 50 percent of those in immigration detention. Prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America lobby heavily to secure these government contracts to increase their profits.
“The tragic deaths at the Eloy Detention Center are a glaring example of the continuing problems that plague our country’s immigration detention system,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director at Detention Watch Network. “Leaving outdated mandatory detention laws and practices in place comes with an immense moral and economic price tag. Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have the power to heed the call to do better and enact real change by moving to repeal mandatory detention in the comprehensive immigration reform plan the Senate has put forward.”
Detention Watch Network is also calling on Senators McCain and Flake to exercise their authority and demand that ICE immediately terminate its contract with Corrections Corporation of America’s Eloy Detention Center and release immigrants in these facilities and return them to their families and communities. Click here for the action alert.
The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.
To arrange interviews with Andrea Black or Alessandra Soler, contact: Silky Shah at email@example.com
Petition Statement: The Border Patrol uses our tax money to incarcerate immigrants in private prisons on charges that weren’t considered crimes ten years ago. We call on our Senators and Representatives to deny funding to the private prison industry.
Despite immigration reform efforts, private prison industry lobbyists have support in Congress for over $2 billion a year for massive incarceration of immigrants in private prisons.
Immigrants arrested by the Border Patrol serve an average sentence of 360 days in a private prison for behaviors that weren’t considered crimes ten years ago.
This is not o.k. Congress should refuse to finance private prisons with immigrant incarcerations.
Immigration Detention: Rev. John Guttermann Lives out Faith Through
‘Conversations with Friends’
Interview by Luke Telander, Program Associate for Outreach at LIRS with Rev. John Guttermann, Covenant Minister at United Church in Christ in New Brighton, Lead at Conversations with Friends, and Advocacy Lead for the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration, MN.
Leaders like Rev. John Guttermann of the United Church in Christ in New Brighton, MN are mobilizing volunteers to visit and give hope to detained immigrants who often have nowhere else to turn for solace. I was lucky enough to talk with him about his life and work. Here are his thoughts:
Luke Telander (LT): What experience first drove you to get involved with detention visitation?
Rev. John Guttermann (JG): In 2006, both of my parents died while I was serving in a difficult interim pastorate. I eventually resigned from my position and began what I thought would be three month voluntary sabbatical. I took classes (including an anti-racism class), read, rested, enjoyed being home, began attending a variety of meetings and events related to ‘social justice,’ and eventually signed up for a social justice trip to Chiapas, the southern most state of Mexico, with a group from the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. It was the first time I had traveled to a 2/3rd world country. I worked hard to prepare, read all that was required and more. While there we met with justice advocates and organizers; met with Zapatista communities; visited the village of Acteal where right-wing paramilitaries murdered 45 men, women, and children; listened, discussed, and learned. Above all I heard the people we met with telling me that my response to their stories should not be an attempt to return to help them, but required that I find a way to serve and share their stories within my own community.
Soon after returning home I received a notice of an immigrant rights march in Minneapolis. Not quite knowing what it was, I participated, and in doing so discovered that the people the I met with in Chiapas were here: until that march, I had not seen or paid attention to the immigrants among us.
Soon I met with four other United Church of Christ pastors around one of their dining room tables. We began learning about immigrant detention and rather naively said, “We should visit them,” only to learn that outside of their attorneys, immigrant detainees had no right to be visited, and our clergy collars did not grant us the privilege of being a visitor to immigrant detainees. My response was to become the lead person working to gain that permission and to begin a visitation program.
LT: How does your work advocating for immigrant rights reflect your religious beliefs?
JG: I read, listen to, and hear Biblical narratives with a different eyes and ears from what I used to. The Levitical text, ”treat the aliens among you as the citizen”, the Matthean text “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” the birth narratives as migration stories – all texts and themes that were once peripheral to me have become core texts that now frame my faith stance in the world. For me, Scripture now has a harder, more demanding edge – it evokes more passion and demands that I respond with more commitment.
LT: What is the number one misconception about immigration detention in America today?
JG: I do not think enough people are aware of detention for there to be any kind of general misconception. For those who are aware, and who are not like me in their involvement, it is the belief that incarceration of immigrants of protects us from criminals. I use ‘incarceration’ intentionally because ‘detention’ is too benign a word for the experience of immigrants held by ICE.
LT: You work with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition in Minneapolis. How has working with people from diverse backgrounds and faiths strengthened your work?
JG: I think interfaith work strengthens the integrity of all faith work. In the world’s (not just the United States’) mosaic of faith cultures, I question the validity of uni-faith work. Interfaith work provides checks and balances to arrogance and helps keep our efforts honest. It is a reminder that we are not all the same and do not need to be the same to be faithful and do what is faithful by the lights of our different traditions. And we are all here together. It teaches that we can have faithful boundaries and mutual respect through shared service. But it is hard – I do not do it especially well, I am lucky in that there are multiple existing interfaith networks in my area. I just keep showing up and trying.
LT: How have you seen visitation programs make a difference in the lives of detainees?
JG: That has been difficult to assess. We do a very small thing – meet and offer ourselves for compassionate conversation. We are seldom able to follow or do multiple meetings with the same individual throughout their incarceration. I think making a difference means many different things: we offer a safe place for immigrant detainees to declare their frustrations and complaints, though we are unable to do anything about those frustrations and complaints. I think the safe space for doing that makes a difference. We are sometimes asked “why are you here?’ or “why are you doing this?” and our simple response is that we care and want them to know they are not alone. And after a visit it is often those who asked “why” who express their appreciation and request that we come back.
LT: How can individuals and congregations of all faiths get involved in visitation programs?
- As a volunteer willing to commit to be trained, back ground checked, and be a visitor for at least 6 months.
- By offering prayer for the detained immigrants as a routine part of their worship.
- By offering prayer for those who are visiting.
- By praying for the corrections officers and ICE officers.
- By bringing programs about immigration and our detention –deportation system to their faith nand community organizations.
- By connecting with those who are advocating for immigration reform.
- By donating to organizations that are supporting immigrants and the campaign for reform.
LT: What is the number one thing about our detention system that you would like changed through the current immigration reform efforts?
JG: That each immigrant person being considered for detention should receive an independent hearing before an impartial judge who has the power to make an independent assessment of the immigrant and their situation and has access to resources that support alternatives to detention.
LT: What gives you the most hope for the possibility of real reform of our immigration detention system?
JG: The fact that there is finally a bipartisan conversation about immigration reform in the congress is a hope. That the detention system is so resource intensive, so draining of money and energy, and so wasteful and hurtful of people is well documented, and is leading many across the political spectrum to call for change is also a hope.
I have to add that I think people of faith are “more there” on this issue than they were in 2010 when I first became a part of the effort to drive our nation to reform our immigration system. But I am discouraged because detention system reform is still a less well known subset of the immigration reform campaign and the mantra of “security” seems to dominate the discussion among the general public both inside and outside of faith communities.
Press Release on USCIRF Report: Asylum Detention Needs Improvements
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress considers legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system, a new U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report, Assessing the U.S. Government’s Detention of Asylum Seekers: Further Action Needed to Fully Implement Reforms, finds that the U.S. government continues to detain asylum seekers under inappropriate conditions in jails and jail-like facilities. This detention is contrary to both longstanding USCIRF recommendations and reforms the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced in 2009.
“Many asylum seekers fleeing religious and other forms of persecution have experienced torture and trauma and should not be detained like criminals,” said USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett. “Such conditions may retraumatize this vulnerable population and cause them prematurely to withdraw their asylum claims. Asylum seekers with credible fear of persecution should be released from detention and detained in civil detention centers only when release is not possible.”
Between July and December 2012, USCIRF staff toured 10 detention facilities nationwide and met with officials and asylum seekers. The goal was to assess progress DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) had made on reforms that, if fully implemented, would realize USCIRF recommendations on the detention of asylum seekers. In October 2009, ICE had announced plans to develop a new immigration detention system, with facilities based on civil, not penal, models in locations with access to legal services, emergency rooms, and transportation.
“While ICE has made progress toward implementing the 2009 reforms, most asylum seekers continue to be detained in jail-like, not civil, facilities. ICE needs to expedite its efforts to ensure that any asylum seekers who must be detained are housed in civil facilities,” said Swett.
USCIRF continues to recommend that ICE codify into regulations its 2009 parole process and criteria guidelines under which most asylum seekers found to have a credible fear of persecution are paroled rather than detained. USCIRF also finds that further improvements are needed to expand immigration detainees’ access to legal information, representation, and in-person hearings.
Given that many individuals fleeing religious persecution seek asylum in the United States, the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) authorized USCIRF to examine whether asylum seekers subject to Expedited Removal were being detained under inappropriate conditions or being returned to countries where they might face persecution. USCIRF released its findings in the 2005 Report on Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal. That report found serious flaws in both the processing and detention of asylum seekers in Expedited Removal and issued recommendations, none of which required Congressional action, to the relevant agencies in the DHS and Department of Justice (DOJ).
Are you marching on May Day for migrant rights?CultureStrike would love your help in documenting original #art4 migrant rights at these marches!
- See Pro-Migrant Art, i.e. posters, puppets, banners, costumes, signs.
- Capture it (photos, audio and/or video)
- Upload and tag it #art4
- Photos: Twitter, Instagram or Flickr
- Audio Clips: SoundCloud (3-5 minutes)
- Video Clips: Vine (6 second videos) or Youtube Capture app
- or email stuff or links to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
via @afsc_org: May 1st NJ Rally to Stop Detention and Deportation and Keep Workers’ Families Together
May 1st Rally: Stop Detention and Deportation and Keep Workers’ Families Together!
A country built on immigration! A State bordering the Statue of Liberty! And still no justice for immigrant workers and their families in N.J.
Mandatory Detention is still a law!
Detention bed quota- Requires ICE to fill every detention bed, tears apart immigrant workers’ families every day. We need a bill that reduces the use of detention drastically, preserves due process and stops the deportation of immigrant workers. We call for an end to detention and deportation.
What: Rally to voice our concerns over immigration detention and deportation, and demand family unity for immigrant workers prior to the passage and within the Senate comprehensive immigration reform proposal.
When: May 1st, 2013 – 11:00 am
Where: 950-970 Broad Street, Newark NJ
For co-sponsorship, contact Alix Nguefack at American Friends Service Committee at email@example.com
Organized by the NJ Advocates for Immigrant Detainees*, American Friends Service Committee-Immigrant Rights Program, Wind of the Spirit, CEUS, La Fuente, Newark African Commission, GRADA-54… [list in formation]
Analyses of Titles I, II, and III of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill by the
- Analysis of Senate Immigration Reform Bill: Border Security (Title I) (PDF)
Provisions related to border security goal and plan, border security triggers, border funding and resources, monitoring and accountability
- Analysis of Senate Immigration Reform Bill: Immigrant Visas (Title II) (PDF)
Provisions related to a new registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status, adjustment to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, farm worker program, DREAM, future immigration, family visas, access to public benefits and to health care under the Affordable Care Act
- Analysis of Senate Immigration Reform Bill: Interior Enforcement (Title III) (PDF)
Provisions related to electronic employment eligibility verification, increased penalties, increased worker protections, other enforcement issues
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE via ACLU:
Contact: (212) 549-2666; firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Court Orders Legal Representation for Immigrant Detainees With Mental Disabilities
Vulnerable Immigrants in Removal Proceedings Unable to Represent Themselves Must Get Counsel and a Hearing
LOS ANGELES – A federal district judge has ordered the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Attorney General, and the Executive Office of Immigration Review to provide legal representation toimmigrant detainees with mental disabilities who are facing deportation and who are unable to adequately represent themselves in immigration hearings. The ruling in the class-action lawsuit is the first of its kind for immigrant detainees, who often languish in detention facilities for years without legal representation.
The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California today issued an order granting judgment in favor of plaintiffs in the case, Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder, which applies to certain detainees in Arizona, California and Washington. The decision comes more than three years after a lawsuit was filed by José Antonio Franco-Gonzalez, a Mexican immigrant with a cognitive disability who was detained in federal immigration facilities for nearly five years without a hearing or a lawyer. In 2010, Plaintiffs sought to expand the reach of the challenge to the government’s inadequate procedures by converting the lawsuit into a class action.
In the Court’s ruling, Judge Dolly M. Gee determined that for this class, appointed counsel “is the only means by which they may” defend themselves. Moreover, the Court criticized the government for not having any safeguards to protect this most vulnerable population: “In this case . . . the very basis of Plaintiffs’ claim is the absence of meaningful procedures to safeguard” detainees with mental disabilities. As a result, the Court ordered that these detainees with serious mental disabilities be provided with qualified representatives at government expense and a bond hearing to avoid prolonged detention.
“We welcome today’s ruling as a critical step in protecting the rights of individuals with mental disabilities facing removal proceedings while in detention,” said Matt Adams, legal director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. ”We are pleased that the district court recognized the importance of legal representation in the immigration system and that the court has directed the government to take prompt action to redress crucial flaws in the current system.”
In addition to the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, the ACLU, Public Counsel, Mental Health Advocacy Services and the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell all represented the class of immigrants who benefit from the court’s ruling.
“Today’s ruling ensures that immigrant detainees with mental disabilities finally get the legal representation they need,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “As our country moves to implement common-sense immigration reform, we must insist that the rights of vulnerable groups caught in the immigration prisons are protected. Providing legal representation to people with significant mental disabilities is not only legally sound, but also the only humane way to run our immigration system.”
“We are so pleased that, after three years of hard-pressed litigation, we have achieved a milestone of this significance–appointed counsel for one of the most vulnerable populations detained by the government,” said Michael H. Stenberg of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, co-lead counsel. “We are also pleased that the District Court has so thoughtfully evaluated these issues and has entered an injunction against the government that will ensure a meaningful right to be heard and to not be detained.”
“The court’s order offers critical protection to vulnerable immigration detainees, which is particularly important here in San Diego where we have a notorious immigration detention facility with a large population of detainees with mental disabilities,” said Sean Riordan, staff attorney, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
“The court’s order today will insure that what happened to Jose Antonio Franco will never happen again,” said Talia Inlender of Public Counsel. “Judge Gee’s Order guarantees that those most vulnerable are provided with the legal representation they need to have their fair day in court.”
Franco-Gonzalez, now 33, was forced to represent himself even though a psychiatrist determined that he had no basic understanding of the immigration proceedings, and did not know how to defend himself.
While judges regularly appoint legal counsel in the criminal court system, immigration courts and detention facilities have no safeguards to ensure representation of immigrants. About 34,000 immigrants are detained daily and government estimates indicate that well over 1,000 of them have mental disabilities of some kind. Prior to today’s ruling, none of these individuals were guaranteed legal representation even though they would have great difficulty trying to represent themselves in the complicated legal proceedings against them.
For a copy of the district court decision issued today, visit: http://nwirp.org/Documents/PressReleases/DistrictCourtOrderonFrancov.Holder04-23-2013.pdf
For a copy of the permanent injunction issued by the district court, visit: http://nwirp.org/Documents/PressReleases/PartialJudgmentandPermanentInjunction.pdf
For more information about Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder, visit: aclu.org/immigrants-rights/franco-gonzales-v-holder
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Detention Watch Network Encouraged by Possibility of Immigration Reform
Calls for Fundamental Reform of the Detention System
Washington, DC – Immigration detention provisions in the much-anticipated Gang of Eight’s immigration bill signal progress on long overdue reforms of the unjust and inefficient system, according to the Detention Watch Network (DWN). DWN is particularly pleased to see that all immigrants would be considered for alternatives to detention. However, not fully repealing mandatory detention is a missed opportunity to realign our nation’s policies with our fundamental values of fairness and due process, the groups says. In addition, the bill includes provisions that expand the overall net of supervision, which will ultimately lead to more detentions and deportations.
The bill includes progress in several key detention-related provisions, including:
- Requiring DHS to consider the use of alternatives to detention for all immigrants, except those suspected of terrorist activities. This means that individuals subject to mandatory detention will now be eligible for alternatives programs.
- Redefining “alternatives” to include community-based and NGO models.
- Requiring DHS to make all its contracts with detention facilities contingent on compliance with ICE’s detention standards, and requiring the imposition of financial penalties for any facility found to be in violation of those standards.
- Requiring that, within 72 hours of detaining someone, ICE provide notice to that person of its decision to release or to continue detaining them, and of the reasons for that decision.
- Appointing counsel for unaccompanied minors, those with mental disabilities, and other especially vulnerable individuals.
- Requiring legal orientation programs at every facility.
Yet, there are still several points of concern relating to the immigration detention system, such as:
- Excluding people with criminal convictions from the legalization process. This leaves those individuals vulnerable to detention and deportation.
- Expansion of the category of former offenses that can cause a person to be subject to detention and deportation, even after they have already served the sentence for the underlying offense.
- Drastic expansion of Operation Streamline, a mandatory prosecution program that funnels thousands of people into segregated for-profit immigrant prisons.
- A lack of independent oversight of detention. The standards that facilities must comply with are written by ICE and compliance is monitored by ICE, with no third party oversight.
- The detention bed quota – requiring that ICE fill every detention bed every day – remains in place. This will prevent ICE from actually carrying out the new directive to consider alternatives to detention for all immigrants.
- Mandatory detention is still the law, meaning broad categories of immigrants can still be locked up without so much as a bond hearing.
- The further militarization of the border will lead to more violence against immigrants and further criminalization of border communities.
“We are encouraged that the bill includes important changes to the immigration detention system, including the opportunity for people subject to mandatory detention to be supervised in less punitive and inhumane settings. However, the overall goal of these changes must be to reduce the use of detention drastically. This is not possible without the repeal of mandatory detention.” said Andrea Black, Executive Director, of Detention Watch Network. “In order for immigrants to benefit fully from the proposed changes, a moratorium on detentions and deportations should be in place until the process is complete.”
To push for more accountable, moral, and balanced immigration reform, DWN has joined CAMBIO, a coalition of 12 groups advocating for laws and policies that create a fair system for immigrants to become citizens; bans indefinite detention; guarantees due process for everyone in the United States; makes enforcement systems accountable; protects civil and human rights; encourages a better border to protect the quality of life in the borderlands, prevents the abuse of vulnerable Americans; and keeps families together.
- Americans for Immigrant Justice: A Praiseworthy Effort by Bipartisan Senators Offers Promising Start for Immigration Reform
- Detention Watch Network: Detention Watch Network Encouraged by Possibility of Immigration Reform, Calls for Fundamental Reform of the Detention System
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society: HIAS Welcomes “Gang of Eight” Immigration Reform Legislation, Celebrates Proposed Improvements to Refugee & Asylum Laws
- Immigrant Defense Project: Senate “Gang of 8” Immigration Bill Needs More Work to Ensure Fundamental Fairness for All Immigrants
- Kids in Need of Defense: Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill: Big Step Toward the Protection of Children Alone
- National Immigrant Justice Center: National Immigrant Justice Center Welcomes Historic Senate Immigration Reform Bill
- National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health: Advocates for immigrant women commend introduction of bipartisan immigration reform bill in U.S. Senate [PDF]
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: LIRS welcomed the introduction of the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) on April 17 and has analyzed the bill from the perspective of each of our five principles for immigration reform.
By Michael Tan, Staff Attorney, Immigrants’ Rights Project, ACLU
Immigration Detainees Win Right to Fair Hearing
Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling that curtails one of the most wasteful and draconian features of our immigration lock-up system: the government’s practice of putting immigration detainees behind bars for months or even years, without ever holding a bond hearing to determine if they should be locked up in the first place. In Rodriguez v. Robbins, a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU, the Court upheld an order requiring bond hearings for detainees locked up six months or longer while they fight their deportation cases. The ruling stands to benefit thousands of immigration detainees across the Ninth Circuit, where an estimated 25% of immigrant detainees are held every year.
The government’s track record makes the importance of this ruling clear. The immigration lock-up system is massive and hugely expensive to American taxpayers. In 2011, the government detained a record-breaking 429,000 immigrants at a price tag of $2 billion, even though most immigrants do not need to be locked up to ensure their appearance for court or protect the public from harm. In many cases, the basic due process of a bond hearing would have prevented months or years of such arbitrary detention and saved countless taxpayer dollars.
One such person is Byron Merida. Byron has lived in the United States for nearly three decades, during which time he started several successful small businesses. All of his immediate family members are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Nonetheless, the government detained Byron without a bond hearing after it placed him in deportation proceedings following his conviction for a non-violent crime. The government continued to detain Byron while his immigration case wound through the courts, including his successful appeal to the Ninth Circuit. When Byron finally got a bond hearing as a result of our case, the immigration judge ordered him released on a $2,500 bond. In total, the government needlessly detained Byron for three years and four months—at a cost of nearly $200,000 to taxpayers. And Byron is not alone. According to the government, immigration judges have ordered the release on bond of approximately two-thirds of the people given hearings under the lower court’s order, making clear that the vast majority of long-term detainees can be released without endangering public safety.
Indeed, the Ninth Circuit specifically rejected the government’s claims that we need mass immigration lock-up to keep our streets safe. As the Court held: “Contrary to the government’s rhetoric, this injunction will not flood our streets with fearsome criminals seeking to escape the force of American immigration law,” but “provides individuals . . . a hearing where a neutral decision-maker can determine whether they might deserve conditional release from the prison-like setting where they might otherwise languish for months or years on end.”
As comprehensive immigration reform gears up this week, today’s ruling is an important reminder that meaningful reform must include fixing our broken immigration detention system—a system that wastes money, ruins lives, and violates our constitutional values.
On April 4th, 2013, Claudia Munoz, an organizer with The National Immigrant Youth Alliance, allowed for herself to be detained by Michigan immigration in order to get into detention and expose the abuses.
In her weeks detained Claudia found numerous instances of ICE officials (J. Jolin) forcing detainees to sign Voluntary Departure.
Claudia witnessed CBP agents purposefully misinterpreting detainee’s responses in order to incriminate them.
Had Michigan ICE been following the national directives on low-priority detainees Claudia would never have been detained.
Fire Director Adducci and let all low-priority detainees go:
Written by Carly Perez, Detention Watch Network
Detained Not Contained:
Detained not Contained lifts up the voices of those directly affected, recognizing their strength and resilience.
“Being held is not easy, there are feelings of disillusionment, total hopelessness, and despair for freedom and being with family and friends,” said Detention Watch Network (DWN) member Marco Galdino, who endured seven years of detention in Arizona. “It is rather difficult to explain all the feelings one has while detained.”
After escaping persecutionfor his sexual orientation in his native Sao Paul, Brazil, Galdino immigrated to the United States in 1995 with a tourist visa. Unfamiliar with U.S. laws, Galdino did not seek political asylum, and in 2005 he was stopped for a traffic violation in Utah, resulting in his arrest for being undocumented. Although never considered a security risk, for the next seven years Galdino was subject to poor conditions, harassment from officers, and transfers to other facilities while in detention.
“One tries desperately to have the strength to live day-to-day through reading, prayer and always looking for support,” said Galdino. Throughout his time in detention, Galdino strived to stay positive by writing in his journal, which now amounts to 2,400 pages, spending endless hours in the library learning about US immigration laws, and helping others translate documents.
After being released, Galdino became actively involved in the Casa Mariposa Restoration Project, which supports immigrants detained in Florence and Eloy, Arizona. “I support immigrants through visits, sending letters, contacting relatives, seeking legal aid, looking for alternatives to detention, raising awareness, and fighting to put an end to detention.”
Today, Galdino’s spirit and dignity remain strong as he looks to the future. “For years I was a prisoner, and now to be free to fight for those who are still detained is a dream,” said Galdino. “The knowledge that I acquire from DWN will greatly benefit my community.”