Recently in Detention Category

UPDATE 2: Chris Newman, the Legal Director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, sends out this statement which I couldn't agree more with:

We are pleased the Department of Justice report compelled the Department of Homeland Security to take steps today that should have been taken years ago. As the DOJ report implies, DHS was an accomplice in the rights violations caused by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. DHS enabled Sheriff Arpaio to conduct his reign of terror, and expansion of the Maricopa Sheriff's approach led to SB 1070 and to the potential Arizonification of the country.

Today, the Department of Justice again acted to clean up the mess caused by failed DHS policies that enlist local police into the business of enforcing unjust immigration laws. It is time for DHS to stop contributing to the civil rights crisis described in the DOJ report and end the programs that made Arpaio's crimes possible.
Chris Newman - National Day Laborer Organizing Network (15 December 2011)
UPDATE: DHS has cut off Arpaio's access to the 287(g) program and to the Secure Communities program, according to Talking Points Memo.

This is huge. It's the first acknowledgement on behalf of the Obama administration that these programs are harmful. Why the Obama administration would role out harmful programs like S-COMM nationwide, that the administration now acknowledges can be abused by nativists like Arpaio, still makes absolutely no sense.

ORIGINAL POST: Almost three full years into the Obama administration's reign, the U.S. Department of Justice has finally issued a report on the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) which is head by one of the worst nativists in the country, Joe Arpaio. The quote that jumped out at me from all the reports coming in was this, buried in Marc Lacey's New York Times article:

The report said that Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped in the sprawling county, which includes Phoenix and its environs, than non-Latino drivers. The expert who conducted the study called it the most egregious racial profiling he has ever seen in this country, said Mr. Perez, the prosecutor.
Marc Lacey - New York Times (15 December 2011)

It looks like the report has some teeth, too. As I understand it, Arpaio has until Jan. 4 to respond, and if he refuses to cooperate fully with federal officials to stop this racism then the DOJ will file a civil lawsuit to force compliance, and Arpaio could lose millions in federal funding.
They're not detention centers, they're prisons, where migrants are treated like criminals for the noble act of seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Cuéntame continues its frontal assault on the Corrections Corporation of America, and evil institution if there ever was one:



Cuéntame also started a new campaign "An Honest Conversation" that seeks to shine a disinfecting light on homophobia in the Latin@ community.


Cuentame's latest video is power. It's about time that someone in the pro-migrant movement throw a punch right at the nose of the prison-industrial complex. Stand with Cuentame's Immigrants For Sale campaign if you haven't done so yet.

The whole idea of an "industrial complex" is a difficult one to grasp, but an important one in U.S. democracy as it represents a wholesale corruption of the system. I know of three "industrial complexes" that affect my life, the military-industrial complex (the original), the prison-industrial complex, and the non-profit-industrial complex. Each has its own flavor, which I won't describe here, but Iist them all together to make the point that they describe similar phenomena. The phenomena becomes clear when President Dwight D. Eisenhower's original phrase is used, the "military-industrial-congressional complex."

ICE is at it again. Even as Barack Obama asks the nation why we are deporting talented youth, his agencies lock up and deport college students like Jonathan Chavez.

Sign the petition asking ICE to halt the deportation of Jonathan Chavez.

If Obama wants the support of pro-migrant voters in 2012, he should place a moratorium on deportation of DREAM-eligible youth. This wouldn't constitute passing the DREAM Act on the sly, such a moratorium would only benefit Dreamers in removal proceedings. There would be no path to citizenship, only limbo for Dreamers who would otherwise be deported.

If pro-migrant voters want immigration reform to move forward, we should not accept anything less from President Obama than a written policy of granting deferred action to Dreamers in removal proceedings. His actions thus far demonstrate that he will only move on immigration policy when pushed. So far, conservatives have pushed him a lot harder than the pro-migrant community has, and he has responded by deporting record numbers of people. This represents a strategic failure by advocates, one which occurred in part because D.C. immigrant advocacy organizations have represented the interests of Democratic politicians instead of the interests of immigrant communities.

How many young people like Jonathan Chavez will be deported before groups like RI4A, AILA, SEIU, and the National Immigration Forum confront President Obama for destroying immigrant communities?

How long will supporters of these groups continue to allow organizational leadership to disrespect immigrant communities in this way? Only as long as we let them ...

Via Vivirlatino comes news that Dreamer Pedro Gutierrez, who was due to present himself to ICE today to be deported, was granted a 30-day extension. Pedro's statement:

I now realize that the only way for me to be able to stay in Arizona, my home, is for President Obama to allow for me to stay. It is his choice whether I am deported to a country I do not know or if I am allowed to stay in Arizona and give back to my community. I ask President Obama to please let me serve this nation.

This is exactly right. At this point, it is President Obama's choice whether to deport Pedro and other Dreamers in removal proceedings, or to stand with the immigrant community on the side of justice.

Which will he choose?

MLK march Broad Street

An interfaith, multiethnic group of Philadelphians rallied and marched today to protest the detention and deportation of Cambodian refugees who came to the U.S. as children escaping genocide in their homeland.

About 300 supporters rallied at the Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City, Philadelphia, before marching to the ICE District Office several blocks away. Speakers throughout the event referenced the words and life of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was celebrated today.

Several Cambodian men now in their thirties were resettled as child refugees in some of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods. Raised by traumatized parents, in families that had been decimated by the Khmer Rouge, some strayed in their youth and were convicted of crimes in their teens and early twenties. They served their time and reintegrated into their communities, raising families and starting businesses. Many had become permanent residents but not citizens, not understanding the distinction or the consequences of not naturalizing.

A pair of laws passed in 1996 with bipartisan support are now tearing apart Philadelphia's Cambodian community. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) expanded the types of crimes which could result in permanent exile. They removed the ability of immigration judges to consider discretionary factors, such as length of time in the U.S. or family ties, in individual cases. Now, years after these men served their sentences, ICE has locked them up and begun deporting them. They will never be able to live with their U.S. citizen wives and children in this country again. They will be banished from their adopted country and sent back to the place where their families were slaughtered.

This article from Julie Shaw in the Philadelphia Daily News examines the heavy caseload that Philadelphia's immigration judges face, and ways that long court delays impact the people caught up in the immigration enforcement system.

The influx of cases into the court system is a direct result of escalated action by ICE under the Obama and Bush administrations. Obama's ICE is openly pursuing target deportation numbers, not for any coherent security or political goal, but simply because that is the logical endpoint of the enforcement-first narrative this government has embraced. This is reminiscent of the criminal justice system's turn in the 1970s towards locking people up en masse, abandoning crime prevention and rehabilitation for a more destructive, reactive, punitive approach. This response comes from fear, not from strength, and it feeds on itself, making what once would have been abhorrent seem commonplace.

The Obama administration announced last month its intention to resume deportations in mid-January of certain Haitian immigrants convicted of crimes in the U.S. Some of those likely to deported have lived in the U.S. for decades and will be permanently separated from U.S. citizen family members. Some had been permanent residents themselves. All will face indefinite imprisonment as criminal deportees by the Haitian government in jails where they may contract cholera or tuberculosis and where the government relies on family members to bring prisoners food and safe drinking water. Furthermore, prisoners in Haiti are at risk of being killed by their own prison guards. A week after the earthquake last year, prison guards in Les Cayes summarily executed prisoners and then tried to cover up the crime.

The U.S. government will be deporting people to their deaths in Haiti--some of these deportees will not survive under these harsh conditions.

Via Jaya Ramji-Nogales, I learned that a group of human rights advocates filed a petition (pdf) last week with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asking that it prevent the United States from resuming deportations to Haiti. The Commission is an organ of the Organization of American States that can be petitioned to make recommendations to member states to resolve cases of violations of human rights. While the Commission and the associated Inter-American Court of Human Rights lack significant enforcement authority, litigation in these bodies can be a way to pressure member states to more faithfully observe human rights.

For a country like the U.S. which has historically used the rhetoric of human rights both to define its national identity and as a foreign policy tool, being publicly called out for violating human rights should be a source of embarrassment. Ramji-Nogales outlines the specific human rights violations alleged in the petition:

The petition alleges violations of five provisions of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (sic). The deportation of these Haitians abrogates their right to life given the inhumane prison conditions they will face at home, particularly during the cholera epidemic, which has hit prisons particularly hard. Their removal also breaches their right to freedom from cruel, infamous, or unusual punishments due to the severe lack of medical care and social services in post-earthquake Haiti. The arbitrary detention these criminal deportees will face upon return violates their right to security of person. The petition also argues that the failure of the U.S. immigration system to offer a humanitarian defense to deportation, either by measuring the impact of removal on U.S. citizen family members or assessing the gravity of conditions in their home country violates the Haitians' right to family life and their right to due process and a fair trial.

Ramji-Nogales points out that U.S. petitioners to the Commission must reference the Declaration since the U.S. has refused to ratify the American Convention on Human Rights, a legally binding treaty. The U.S. is joined by Cuba and a handful of other states in refusing to ratify the treaty, again showing the U.S. to be an outlier in its faltering dedication to the protection of human rights. As demonstrated by its resumption of deportations to Haiti, the U.S.'s commitment to observing human rights in practice does not match its rhetoric.

If you disagree with the Obama administration's decision to send these Haitians to their death, please sign this petition at change.org asking ICE to suspend these deportations.

In my inbox tonight:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 30, 2010

Contact:
Michelle Fei, 917.881.2638
mfei@immigrantdefenseproject.org (English)
OR
Angela Fernandez, 646.734.4932
(Spanish & English)

Advocates Disappointed by New "Secure Communities" Agreement and Vow to Continue to Push for Full Rescission

New York, NY (Dec. 30, 2010) - Representatives of a wide coalition of advocates responded to news of Governor Paterson's revisions to the State's "Secure Communities" agreement with dissatisfaction and frustration over its lack of meaningful changes. They also declared that they will continue to push incoming Governor Cuomo to fully rescind the agreement based on the program's fundamental flaws.

"While we greatly appreciate that the Governor has listened to our concerns, the new agreement does not narrow the class of targeted immigrants as the State appears to think it does," said Angela Fernandez of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, one of the more than 75 groups that has advocated with the Governor and elected officials to end the agreement. "We remain as adamantly opposed to Secure Communities because it is a costly program that undermines trust with the police, encourages racial profiling, and funnels immigrants into an unjust deportation system."

Further, advocates assert, ICE has repeatedly demonstrated its lack of accountability and transparency, making it an agency for which New York should not subject itself to liability. Examples cited by advocates include ICE's changing position on its classification of those targeted for deportation, priorities for deportation, and conflicting statements about the ability of localities to opt out of Secure Communities.

"Sadly, this new agreement is simply a reformulation of the flawed original that dramatically widened ICE's deportation dragnet," stated Michelle Fei of the Immigrant Defense Project, another coalition group member. "New York officials are still letting themselves get hoodwinked by ICE if they think this version is any improvement. We hope Governor-Elect Cuomo will do more to recognize that immigrants who have gone through the criminal justice system should not face deportation as an unfair second punishment."

With no public input, the Division of Criminal Justice Services had signed an agreement with ICE in May this year to bring Secure Communities to New York. Under the controversial program, law enforcement agencies in the State would be required to automatically forward to federal immigration databases the fingerprints of US citizens, undocumented immigrants, and lawful permanent residents alike. Those suspected of being deportable would be transferred directly into the detention and deportation system, separating them from their families and communities.

###

The New York State Working Group Against Deportation is a broad coalition of domestic violence, criminal justice, immigrant rights, family services, labor, faith-based, civil rights, and community-based organizations that aims to stop Secure Communities and other deportation programs.

Governor Paterson's press release can be found here.



The "DREAM Now Series: Letters to Barack Obama" is a social media campaign that launched Monday, July 19, to underscore the urgent need to pass the DREAM Act. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, S. 729, would help tens of thousands of young people, American in all but paperwork, to earn legal status, provided they graduate from U.S. high schools, have good moral character, and complete either two years of college or military service.  With broader comprehensive immigration reform stuck in partisan gridlock, the time is now for the White House and Congress to step up and pass the DREAM Act!

Dear Mr. President,

I am a member of the first graduating class of Felix Varela Senior High which is located in Miami, Florida. I had attended school with my native-born friends. Like them, I participated in activities, field trips, dances, and felt the pain of losing a classmate.

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