Posts Tagged ‘detention’

The Administration is Saying the Right Things and Promising to “Always Be Listening”

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Last night, President Obama appeared on “Premio Lo Nuestro,” a Latin music awards show, and thanked Latino voters for coming out to vote in November (even if they didn’t vote for him). He also encouraged Latinos to keep coming out and making their voices heard, promising that he would “always be listening.”

This appearance follows the President’s announcement last week that he is still committed to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform this year. We hope that this is only one of many such appearances (to both Spanish- and English-speaking audiences) that will help garner political support for CIR.

Check it out:

In other encouraging news from the administration, Dora Schriro–special advisor to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano for ICE and Detention and Removal–wrote on the USA Today blog yesterday promising to carefully consider the Amnesty International report that was released yesterday decrying immigrant detention standards in the United States.

Schriro acknowledged the sense of urgency needed in her review of detention standards and detainee treatment and promised that she and Secretary Napolitano were committed to “measurable, sustainable progress.”

All good news from the administration. I hope I can keep saying that more and more as time goes by.


Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention as Bad as Gitmo

In enforcement on March 26, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Yesterday, Amnesty International released its new report “Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA.”

This report documents the horrific conditions of the United States’ immigrant detention centers. It reports that immigrants frequently do not have access to legal council, their cases are denied judicial review, they live in substandard conditions being denied basic hygiene, cleanliness, and medical attention, and on average are held in detention for at least 10 months.

The most horrific part, as Keith Olberman of MSNBC news says, is that no one at DHS or ICE denies any of it.

Check out Keith’s coverage on Amnesty’s new report (coverage begins 1 min 23 sec into the clip):

For more information, go to “Immigration Impact: Guilty Until Proven Innocent in Immigration Detention.”

Last Week: In Our Community (Mar. 16-23)

In community impact on March 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Immigration news and updates from Monday, March 16 through Monday, March 23.

Stop the Raids
In his blog “God’s Politics,” evangelical leader and activist Jim Wallis tells people that ending immigration raids is a matter of conscious.

End Immigration Raids, Cardinal Tells President
On Saturday, Cardinal Francis George called on President Barack Obama to end immigration raids and pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. He said, “We cannot strengthen families when people live in fear from day to day.”

A Slippery Place in the U.S. Workforce
This article talks about the experiences of immigrants in Morristown, a small factory town in east TN, in light of the economic crisis. Covering the historical demographic changes of the area, to the anti-immigrants struggles spurred by ESL classes in the education system, to disparate access to career centers and additional job training, this article provides insight into how immigration can affect communities and the economy as a whole.

Martinez Heats Up Immigration Debate
Florida Senator Mel Martinez began heating up the debate over comprehensive immigration reform last week. A leading Republican voice for CIR, Martinez wants to get CIR done fast as he has plans to retire at the end of his term. He also seems to believe that other republicans have begun to see immigration as a human rights issue.

Immigration Agency Is Criticized Over Healthcare
After another death in immigration detention was reported last week, Human Rights Watch and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center have stepped up their critique of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) immigrant detention practices. The groups argue that deaths and other forms of substandard treatment are the result of “unskilled or indifferent staff, overcrowding, bureaucracy, language barriers and limited services available to detainees.”

The Competition for Low-Wage Jobs
This week the NY Times blog Room for Debate discusses how the current economic crisis affects both legal and undocumented immigrants. The blog brings together six differing perspectives, ranging from labor economists, anti-immigrant activists, migration policy experts, day laborer, and employment activists.

Ana’s Choice: Can Congress reform immigration law to make it more humane?
This article is a summary of larger piece published in the Winter 2009 issue of Ms. Magazine. It provides one of many feminist perspectives on immigration, focusing on family unity and a pathway to legal status.

Migrant Workers Sending Less Money to Latin America
This Wall Street Journal article discusses the decline in remittances being sent to Latin America due to the economic recession. Many Latin American countries depend on remittances sent from the U.S., Europe, and Japan and are likely to be hard-hit with this decline.

Cities and Counties Rely on U.S. Immigrant Detention Fees
These days, most local governments are having to cut their budgets. But many local law enforcement agencies have found a new source of income–immigrant detention. This article talks about how many South California jails are nearly able to pay for the entire cost of running their facility off of the income they make on housing immigrant detainees.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard Introduces Positive Immigration Legislation

In enforcement, legislation on February 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Yesterday, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard introduced the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act of 2009 (H.R. 1215) which works to “better ensure immigrant detainees receive fair and humane treatment while in detention.”

This bill comes in response to the numerous deaths and cases of abuse in immigrant detention centers that have garnered media attention in recent months. These cases are not isolated however; in fact, over 80 people have died while in DHS detention during a five-year period beginning in 2003. A large portion of these deaths, it appears, could have been avoided if adequate and timely medical attention had been provided.

Although the federal government established immigration detention standards in 2000, these standards are not enforceable by law and not consistently implemented. The Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act seeks to correct the failure to provide safe and humane conditions by setting binding, clear, and enforceable detention standards.

In particular, the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act:

  • Improves detainees’ access to telephones and medical care, including treatment for survivors of sexual abuse
  • Improves mental health care standards, which are critical for persons who have suffered persecution, torture, or other trauma
  • Promotes alternatives to detention which enable detainees to be released on their own recognizance, bond, or other non-custodial supervision programs
  • Provides protections for unaccompanied children taken into DHS custody

While providing water and food to children who are sometimes held for 72 hours or more at the border seems like common sense, reports show that children on the border are often held in deplorable conditions.

FCNL supports this effort by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard to implement clear and binding standards for the detention of immigrants. We have joined other national, regional, and local faith-based organizations in writing a letter of support for this bill. To view the letter, click HERE.

Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Immigration news and updates from February 16th- Monday February 23rd.

There was a lot of interesting coverage last week (not even including all of the great media coverage the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s prayer vigils received!), so I’ll highlight a few articles with annotations up top, and then just include a list of links after that.

TRAILER- AbUSed: The Postville Raid
While I’m going to create a separate post on this later today, I figured I’d go ahead and link to the trailer for a new documentary coming out about the immigration raid at Agroprocessors, Inc. in Postville, IA last year. This trailer is extremely powerful (I look forward to seeing the documentary in full) and demonstrates the continued devastation facing the community of Postville emotionally, economically, and spiritually.

NYT Editorial: Enforcement Gone Bad

This NY Times editorial outlines the failures of the federal government’s enforcement-only immigration strategy.

NY Times: In Lonliness, Immigrants Tend the Flock
This heartfelt article discusses the work of (legal) temporary migrant workers who come to the US to work as sheepherders in the U.S.-American West. The article notes how, in particular, the “harsh, solitary lives of foreign sheepherders in the American West have remained virtually unchanged for more than a century. And government oversight of their circumstances remains piecemeal.”

Immigrant Removed During Church Service Near Conroe, Jailed
This article tells the story of Jose Juan Hernandez who was arrested for re-entering the country after deportation while sitting in a church santurary during a church service near Conroe, TX. Hernandez had no prior record of violence. The arrest inside the church caused great controversy in the community, many of whom felt ICE’s tactics violated sacred worship.

THE HILL: Immigration Reform Advocates Push Forward in Tough Economy
This article discusses the continued push for comprehensive immigration reform in the coming year. The article provides a nice overview of the political climate on the Hill around immigration given the current state of the economy, unemployment, etc.

Conflicting Accounts of an ICE Raid in MD: Officers Portray Detention of 24 Latinos Differently in Internal Probe and in Court
This Washington Post article discusses the controversial arrests of 24 Latino men at a 7/11 in MD over two years ago. The arrests were caught on security camera footage and the footage was then obtained by the Washington Post. The footage demonstrates how ICE agents tended towards random sweeps for undocumented immigrants–which perpetuated racial profiling–rather than focusing on their stated goal of apprehending fugitive criminals.

100,000-plus Citizen Children Find Parents Deported: Serrano Releases DHS Study Showing Families Being Torn Apart
Congressman José Serrano released a study last week which he commissioned from the Department of Homeland Security showing that DHS has deported more than 100,000 parents of U.S. citizen children. DHS also admitted that this number could be higher if their records were more accurate. In response, Congressman Serrano has re-introduced the Child Citizen Protection Act which would take allow the courts to take family unity into account when considering the cases of parents with U.S. citizen children. For further coverage, see this Associated Press article.

Helping Workers in Hard Times
This NY Times editorial does a great job at linking protection of labor rights to undocumented immigration. Pointing out that undocumented immigrants most often fill the “most dangerous, dirty, and low-paying jobs,” the editorial argues that the best strategy to combat undocumented migration and protect U.S. workers is to “fight back against abuses that make wages and job conditions worse for everyone.”

Now for the list:

LA Times: Illegal Immigration Case Stemming from Van Nuys Work Site Raid Is Dismissed: ICE agents violated regulations in 2008 raid, judge says in ruling that could affect dozens of other cases

Washington Post: ICE Halts Detentions at Piedmont Facility After Death

Chicago Tribune: Law Allows Religious Workers More Time With Jailed Immigrants

NPR: Napolitano Outlines Immigration Priorities

Politico: Rahm’s Immigration Turnabout

NY Times: U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship

Associated Press: Supreme Court Hears Immigrant’s ID Theft Case

Texas Observer- Access Denied: Countless women are sexually assaulted as they attempt to immigrate into the United States. What happens to their reproductive rights when they wind up in U.S. custody?

Brownsville Herald: America’s Immigration Gulags Overflowing With Mentally Ill Prisoners

Guardian- America’s ‘Toughest Sheriff’ Faces Lawsuit Over Crime Crackdown: Call for Investigation into Alleged Anti-Hispanic Sweeps

Omaha World-Herald: Mom Worries as Woman Faces Deportation

NY Times: Facing Graduation, Not Deportation

Associated Press: In Enforcement Era, Communities Prepare for Raids

More Reports Conclude That Enforcement Is “Missing Its Mark”

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 at 4:45 pm

As Immigration Impact recently blogged, new reports by the University of North Carolina/North Carolina ACLU and the Pew Hispanic Center further confirm what we reported last week: immigration enforcement is missing its mark.

The University of North Carolina/North Carolina ACLU report, “The Policies and Politics of Local Immigration Enforcement Laws: 287(g) Program in North Carolina,” analyzes the partnership between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement, a partnership that is known as the 287(g) program.

The 287(g) program is essentially a law that grants local police and sheriffs to act as immigration officers when faced with “dangerous fugitive aliens.” But what long term observation by the UNC/ACLU of NC law team shows is that this program “has instead created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity.”

Similarly, the new report by the Pew Hispanic Center, “A Rising Share: Hispanics and Federal Crime” demonstrates that enforcement measures like raids, detention, and deportation are placing a significant burden on the federal court system.

As the report points out, most immigration violations like “unlawful presence” or “entry without inspection” are civil–not criminal–infractions. However, all immigration matters are managed in federal courts.

The result is that the steep increase in immigration enforcement in recent years has flooded the federal court system with individuals who are non-violent and pose absolutely no threat to community safety. In turn, this has taken time and resources away from prosecuting those individuals who are actually criminals.

With all these reports coming out, you’d hope that DHS and the new administration might get the picture: Enforcement-only does not work. It hurts our communities.

House Passes Deaths in Custody Reporting Act

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Yesterday afternoon the House passed the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act. The measure passed with a vote of 407-1.

The ease at which the bill went through the House came as a surprise to some, given the fierce objections that came out of the Senate debate last year.

Nonetheless, we should all be pleased with this vote. Very simply, the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act requires any local, state, or federal detention facility which receives federal funds–including those which house immigrant detainees–to report annually to the Department of Justice any death of a person in their custody.

This bill is especially pertinent given the recent attention immigrant detention facilities have received due to unnecessary and preventable deaths of immigrants in their custody.

As my colleague wrote: Underwear and Sunlight, what they have in common besides a human’s need for them

In Uncategorized on February 4, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Today, like most days, when I came into work I spent the first 45 minutes of my day siphoning through news articles, op-eds, and editorials that have been emailed to me since I left work at 5:30 the day before. These help keep me up-to-date on all that is happening in the immigration realm across the country, and in turn, enable me to better inform you (once or twice a week I post a blog with what I consider the top 5-6 most recent articles that talk about how immigration affects our community. To check last week’s out, click here or here).

Today, a couple articles in particular stuck out to me. One was titled: “The Big Business of Family Detention: It’s not just alleged terrorists who are suffering from our inhumane treatment of detainees. It’s also children.” The second was called: “ICE Raids–Detention Centers Not About Immigration, All About Money!

These titles disturbed me, even though the issues the articles discuss are well-known subjects to me.

They made me think about my own trip to a local detention center about two weeks ago. Some colleagues of mine had set up the trip so that those of us who work on immigration issues here in Washington could actually see firsthand some of the situations that immigrants deal with.

Overall, the facility was quite well kept and run in an orderly fashion. The guards and superintendent of the facility were unbelievably gracious to our group, spending over 4 hours with us and answering any question that we may have. The facility didn’t appear to be the harrowing place that we hear about in so many news articles where people are abused or dying because of substandard treatment.

However, I think my colleague Katrine from NETWORK (a Catholic social justice lobby) put it best when she wrote:

“Underwear and sunlight, sunlight and underwear. The two never seemed to go together as underwear would theoretically never see sunlight nor sunlight see underwear. I thought that the only commonality was the person, wearing the underwear, basking in the sunlight. I did not realize that at Hampton Roads they would have another thing in common: their classification as non-essentials. So non-essential that the sun is to be felt only through the small crack of one window in a gym, and bras worn only if one has five or ten dollars to pay for a pair from the jail commissary. In the end, a very intriguing and educational tour came down to the simplest of things: underwear and sunlight, sunlight and underwear.”

It’s the so-called small things that immigrants are deprived of that perhaps is most shocking: underwear, sunlight. No contact visits are allowed. Spouses cannot see each other if they are in the same facility. Parents cannot hug their children. Children are born while their mothers are shackled to the bed.

And you can be in there for years.

And in some facilities, children are held wearing criminal jumpsuits. Children raised behind bars without sunlight and underwear, underwear and sunlight.

All because of civil infractions that are about equal to a traffic ticket in legal terms.

When I think about these realities in relation to the economic gain made by companies who run the immigrant detention centers like those discussed in the two articles I received today, I can’t help but envision it as a caricature in which there is a huge corrupt traffic cop with his foot on the roof of a car that he’s pulled over, holding the people inside indefinitely and charging them $200 a day for their “criminal activity.”

Except in this case, it’s a private company and not a cop. And children and families seeking better lives after economic deprivation, war-torn countries, and exploitation rather than someone who drove to fast.

Last Week: In Our Community

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Paying Taxes, and Fearing Deportation
For years, anti-immigrant activists have claimed that immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden our welfare system. This article, however, examines how immigration enforcement has seized thousands of confidential taxpayers documents in Colorado and is combing through them to find and deport undocumented immigrants in a sting operation called “Operation Number Games.”

SoCal Border Agents Complain of Quotas
The fever of immigration enforcement has grown so much that some Southern California border agents are complaining that they are told to fill a quota of undocumented immigrant arrests each month. If they don’t meet the quota, their scheduled time off is threatened. The agents attest that this is infringing upon the quality of the arrests made, and the ability to uphold humane standards. One agent says he was dismissed for returning detainees to the station because they looked dehydrated rather than staying on the highway to make more arrest.

VIDEO: ICE Raid Targeting Latinos in Maryland

This video clip, taken from surveillance cameras at a 7/11 in Maryland, captures a raid on Latino day laborers waiting for work. As is apparent in the video, the ICE agents round up all persons that appear Latino within the vicinity and ignore any person of other racial and ethnic origins.

Iowa: What Happens When a Town Implodes

Almost eight months after the Agroprocessors raid inPostville, IA, this article tells the story of how the community is still suffering from what leaders call a “humanitarian and economic disaster.” Nearly 400 families are now in need of resources like food stamps, shelters, legal aid, and unemployment benefits.

Another Detention Death, Mounting Questions

Another detainee dies in Piedmont Regional Jail due to denied medical treatment, the second immigrant detainee death at this facility due to substandard conditions since it began accepting immigrant detainees a few years back. This article reports both the details of Mr. Newbrough’s death and the mounting questions developing around ICE’s detention practices.

This week: in our community

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Juana Villegas: A Pregnant Woman Detained
This video documents Juana Villegas relate the trauma of being shackled and detained while giving birth. She was nine months pregnant when she was stopped for “careless driving,” but instead of receiving a customary traffic citation, she was arrested and detained, and remained shackled while giving birth. All of this took place because of the 287(g) agreement between local police and federal immigration authorities.

Ali: An HIV+ Man Suffers in Detention

This video tells the story of Ali, a lawful permanent resident who had been living in New York City for 30 years. After being picked up on a misdeamor, he spent more than a year in an immigration detention facility where he witnessed the worst kind of physical abuse and medical mistreatment, including haveing to fight to get his daily HIV medications.

Obama’s Immigration Challenge: More about Words than Policy
This article put out by the Center for International Policy’s (CIP) Americas Program analyzes what role President Obama could have in pushing for immigration reform this year through his ability to tell a story and weave a new narrative about immigration in this country.

Push on Immigration Crimes is Said to Shift Focus

This New York Times article points out how the last administration’s push on immigration enforcement has drawn resources away from fighting other crimes, notably weapons prosecutions, organized crime prosecutions, and public corruption prosecutions. This data is further backed up by a recent Trac Report.

Latinos Recall Patterns of Attack Before Killing
This NY Times article discusses the pattern of attacks on Latinos before Marcelo Lucero was killed last month. It emphasizes how both immigrants’ fears of reporting crimes to police due to enhanced immigration enforcement and the police’s failure to not consistantly enter crimes against Latinos into their computerized pattern tracking system caused a pattern of hate crimes against the Latino population to go unnoticed.