our latest newsletter: http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/Newsletter/Spring16.pdf
3/10: A Shocking Glimpse Inside America’s Privatized Detention Facilities For Immigrants
Tom Benning and Dianne Solis – Dallas Morning Post
“I cannot bear this punishment any longer,” she began. “I’m dying of desperation, of this injustice, of this cruelty. We are immigrants, not criminals. To treat us like this, it’s as if they must not have hearts, as if we weren’t human. They treat us like dogs.”
Zelaya was fed up. For more than six months, the 29-year-old asylum seeker had been locked inside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an immigrant detention facility in rural Texas. The building, formerly a medium security prison, is a bleak concrete complex surrounded by a wall of chain link fence. Zelaya found the conditions inside the center disturbing; her health began to deteriorate and she fell into a deep depression. At the end of October, she released a searing letter in Spanish describing life inside Hutto, the nation’s only all-women’s detention center.
Like so many of the women at Hutto, Zelaya — whose attorney asked that her full name not be used to protect her safety — was fleeing abuse and a city held hostage by gang violence. But she soon became disillusioned with the grim reality of detention, and decided to stop eating in protest. “I am glad to participate in this hunger strike,” she wrote. “It’s an insult, I came here to find shelter but what I got instead is punishment.”
Zelaya was joined by at least 26 women who also refused to eat until they were released from detention, according to Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit working closely with the women at Hutto. Their actions made headlines after the organization published handwritten letters from 18 of the women, describing their treatment in detention and reasons for striking. “I do not have the help of no one and I am asking as a favor if you can help me I would appreciate it so much because they do not want to lower my bail,” wrote a woman from Mexico protesting the facility’s “inadequate” medical care.
The issues many of the women identified aren’t unique to Hutto, however. They are the product of a sprawling immigration detention system increasingly reliant on partnerships with private prison companies. Those corporations have found a lucrative market in the growing detention of immigrants. Today, nine of the 10 largest detention centers in the country are run by private prison companies. Hutto, for example, is run by the nation’s largest for-profit prison corporation, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), through a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
When Zelaya arrived at Hutto, she found herself caught in this complex partnership. Her decision to go public arose from a deep sense of disappointment with her treatment in detention, especially after enduring trauma and violence in Honduras. The asylum seeker fled harrowing abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, who was rumored to be a sicario, or hitman, for a dangerous gang. “Everyday I discovered a [bad] secret about him; he was a monster disguised as a person,” she recalled in a detailed declaration to her attorney. “He would snort cocaine, and also he would invite his colleagues and friends to drink; they would go to the club and get women and when he was drugged, he would kill them.” Sometimes, he would lock Zelaya up and refuse to feed her.
Zelaya eventually left her husband and moved in with another man, but her situation didn’t improve. After she refused to carry drugs into the city jail for his gang, her home was broken into and she was brutally raped. A few days later, gang members stormed into her house with M16s and AK47s, warning her to leave or face death. Zelaya escaped Honduras, but was arrested by Customs and Border Protection and sent to Hutto after arriving in the U.S. She spent more than six months detained at the center before writing the letter and making her grievances publicly known.
ICE, for its part, quickly denied all reports of the strike. But the events raise questions about the agency’s oversight mechanisms and its response to protest, especially in privately run detention facilities. Although ICE outsources to CCA, the for-profit corporation is not subject to federal public records law, making it difficult to know what happens to detainees who enter centers like Hutto through ICE’s tangled bureaucracy. But Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) requests to ICE give us a peek behind the curtain of this secretive world.
As Immigrant Detention Spikes, Private Corporations Move In
The women at Hutto weren’t the only detainees protesting the conditions of lockup, however. The reported strike emerged as similar actions popped up at immigrant detention centers throughout the country. In October, more than 60 detainees reportedly launched hunger strikes at detention centers in El Paso, Texas, and LaSalle, Louisiana. A month later, hundreds of men began a hunger strike at a detention center in Adelanto, California, and more than 100 detainees launched a series of hunger strikes to protest conditions at detention centers in Alabama, Colorado, Texas, and more.
Considering the numbers, resistance to the conditions of detention should hardly come as a surprise. The immigration detention system has exploded in recent years, nearly doubling its capacity over the past decade. The system’s expansion is partly due to a Congressional mandate known as the detention “bed quota,” which requires that the Department of Homeland Security make more than 30,000 beds available every night for immigrant detention. Thanks to the bed mandate, the total number of people in detention each year has risen dramatically, from 230,000 people in Fiscal Year 2005 to 440,600 in 2013.
The growth of the industry has also helped create a lucrative market for private prison companies, which have welcomed the immigration crackdown as an opportunity for profit. Now, 62 percent of all ICE immigration detention beds are operated by for-profit prison corporations, compared to 49 percent in 2009. The nation’s two largest private prison companies, CCA and GEO Group, have benefited from the surge in particular. Together, they run eight of the country’s 10 largest detention centers, and operate 72 percent of the private immigrant detention industry. Unsurprisingly, both companies reported surging profits in their quarterly earnings this summer and have more than doubled their revenues since 2005. In 2014, CCA earned $195,022,000 in net revenue, compared to $133,373,000 in 2007....
Read the rest of the article:
3/11: ICE Has “Accidentally” Deported Thousands of American Citizens
Kevin Mathews Care2
Stories of immigration detention centers are already upsetting enough, but can you imagine how traumatic it must be for legitimate U.S. citizens to be put through this process? It happens more often than you’d think. As Vice News reports, since 2003, over 20,000 U.S. citizens have been either wrongfully detained or outright deported from the country by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Let’s be perfectly clear: U.S. citizens are absolutely protected constitutionally from being deported or even detained in this manner. However, the system we have in place is such a mess that a large number of Americans slip through the fairly wide cracks and become unjust victims of ICE.
Jacqueline Stevens, director of the Deportation Research Clinic at Northwestern University, has studied these accidental detentions and deportations and found them to be surprisingly, and horrifyingly, common. Since there’s no official citizenship database, even U.S. citizens can have trouble proving they were born in the country, as even the current president can attest.
On top of that, immigration courts are overwhelmed, meaning many cases are pushed through quickly without proper research. People accused of being in the country illegally aren’t even guaranteed legal representation; As such, many go through the process without understanding their own rights or someone to help verify their citizenship. Essentially, the system is so flawed that wrongful deportations are the natural conclusion. “It would be truly shocking if this did not result in the deportation of U.S. citizens,” Stevens said.
U.S. leaders may choose not to be too vocal about these errors, but rest assured they are aware of the problem. According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, between 2011 and 2014, 26 percent of people held in detainment centers by ICE were subsequently found to be U.S. citizens. Considering that ICE is getting it wrong at such a high percentage by its own acknowledgement, it only makes sense that legitimate citizens are being tossed out of the country when ICE’s mistakes aren’t caught.
To better understand how this trigger-happy deportation affects real people, check out a couple of specific cases:
1. Though Ricardo Garza was born in Mexico, he legally became a U.S. citizen later in life. After an arrest for drunk driving, the police asked ICE to come get Garza. Garza told authorities multiple times that he was a naturalized citizen, but no one bothered to verify his story. He spent 5 weeks in an ICE detention center before an immigration attorney, Eric Puente, was able to get him out.
“Mr. Garza had his social security card and driver’s license on him when he was arrested,” said Puente. “Had ICE done their due diligence and listened to him and… looked at their own records, they should have known he was a citizen.” An attempt on the agency’s part to verify Garza’s claims would have probably settled this issue immediately.
2. One of the more shocking cases that Vice references is the saga of Roberto Dominguez, a man who was detained by immigration agents in 1999. The government encouraged him to say he was born in the Dominican Republic to get him out of detainment more quickly, leaving out the fact that that coerced admission would have him deported to the Dominican Republic where he’d spend the next decade of his life.
Dominguez has a legal American birth certificate, but U.S. officials argue that it could have belonged to someone else originally. The U.S. government acknowledges after all these years that they still haven’t found an alternative individual who they believe the birth certificate could belong to, but Dominguez’s citizenship is still somehow a matter of dispute 17 years later.
The fact that these many mistakes are already occurring makes bold immigration proposals from leaders like Donald Trump even more frightening. Looking at Trump’s plans, the Washington Post theorizes that tens of thousands more U.S. citizens could be profiled and put through this shameful process in the name of rooting out undocumented aliens.
Most white Americans will probably never realize what a privilege it is to not have their citizenship questioned and threatened. It’s clear that, with the U.S.’s current gung-ho approach for finding undocumented immigrants, low-income, Hispanic American citizens are being incorrectly profiled because of the way they look.As a country, we shouldn’t even be allowed to discuss deporting immigrants in large numbers so long as we have a faulty system in place that already deports thousands of honest-to-gosh U.S. citizens by accident.
3/30: Border patrol union defies AFGE, endorses Trump
Carten Cordell - Federal Times
An affiliate of the American Federation of Government Employees decided to break ranks with the union and endorsed Donald Trump for president.
The National Border Patrol Council, which represents approximately 18,000 border patrol agents, said that the issue of security led it to make its first presidential endorsement for the outspoken Republican on March 30.
“We think it is that important: if we do not secure our borders, American communities will continue to suffer at the hands of gangs, cartels and violent criminals preying on the innocent,” the group said on its website. “The lives and security of the American people are at stake, and the National Border Patrol Council will not sit on the sidelines.”
The move could be seen as bewildering to some, especially since AFGE endorsed Hillary Clinton in December 2015. The pick didn’t sit well with the NBPC at the time, as it said AFGE acted without its endorsement and didn’t address its concerns over border security.
“We recognize that our agenda is not always AFGE’s agenda and so do our supporters on Capitol Hill. This is why, our strategy to work both sides of the aisle to advance legislation has benefited agents and their families as well as border security,” the group said in a Dec. 11, 2015 release.
In its release, the NBPC said Trump’s outsider, populist appeal has drawn attention to the challenges its members face in enforcing border security. It also took shots at President Barack Obama and Trump's primary rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“America has already tried a young, articulate freshman senator who never created a job as an attorney and under whose watch criminal cartels have been given the freest border reign ever known.”
AFGE officials directed inquiries to the NBPC.
Link to the article:
1/8 Atlanta, GA: More than Fifty Georgia Elected Officials, Faith, Community, and Labor Leaders Condemn ICE Raids
1/26 Austin, TX: Immigrant rights activists confront mayor over deportations
2/8: NATIONAL IMMIGRANT JUSTICE CENTER SUES FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE DATA ON RACIAL PROFILING IN IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT
2/11: U.S. Senators Introduce Bill to Increase Access to Counsel as Cook County Condemns ICE Raids and Calls for Temporary Protected Statushttp://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/cgi-bin/datacgi/database.cgi?file=Issues&report=SingleArticle&ArticleID=1690
2/18: Obama’s new DHS budget reflects security focus
2/22: Investigation Reveals the Secret Deaths of Dozens at Privatized Immigrant-Only Jails (1)
2/22: Investigation Reveals the Secret Deaths of Dozens at Privatized Immigrant-Only Jails (2)
2/22: Investigation Reveals the Secret Deaths of Dozens at Privatized Immigrant-Only Jails (3)
2/22: Europol launches the European Migrant Smuggling Centre
2/25: Private Prisons are Cashing in on Refugee Desperation
2/25: New Report Shows Poor Medical Care Led to Deaths at U.S. Detention Centershttp://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/cgi-bin/datacgi/database.cgi?file=Issues&report=SingleArticle&ArticleID=1697
3/14: Gay binational couple forced to have wedding in detention center
3/22: Meet the Activist Sent to ICE Despite Being Citizen After Blocking Arizona Highway to Trump Rally
3/23: Educators, Legal Aid Providers and Members of Congress Urge Federal Government to End Immigration Raids Targeting Unaccompanied Children
3/24: DHS and State Department Prepare Mass Deportation of Hundreds of Muslims
3/25: Pastors Condemn ICE Tactics To Deport Immigrantshttp://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/cgi-bin/datacgi/database.cgi?file=Issues&report=SingleArticle&ArticleID=1713
3/27: American, Muslim, and under constant watch: the emotional toll of surveillance
3/29: A look at sad reality of what happens when immigration meets criminal justice (1)
3/29: A look at sad reality of what happens when immigration meets criminal justice (2)
3/29: Pasadena, CA: Meeting to Discuss High-Tech H1-B Immigrant Workers Rights
3/31: 8 Biggest H-1B Employers In 2015http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/cgi-bin/datacgi/database.cgi?file=Issues&report=SingleArticle&ArticleID=1720
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Immigrants Shape California: New "Access to Justice" Laws
ICE custody program and its budget
Refugee Appropriations Docs & Resources
Immigration Bond: How to Get Your Money Back (1)
Immigration Bond: How to Get Your Money Back (2)http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/cgi-bin/datacgi/database.cgi?file=Issues&report=SingleArticle&ArticleID=1709
Thanks for GREAT works from Detention Watch Network (DWN) to compiled the following information, please visit DWN website: http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org
Raids to Deportation-A Community Resource Kit
Useful Handouts and Know Your Immigrant Rights When Marches
Immigrant Marches / Marchas de los Inmigrantes
Immigrants and their supporters are participating in marches all over the country to protest proposed national legislation and to seek justice for immigrants. The materials available here provide important information about the rights and risks involved for anyone who is planning to participate in the ongoing marches.
If government agents question you, it is important to understand your rights. You should be careful in the way you speak when approached by the police, FBI, or INS. If you give answers, they can be used against you in a criminal, immigration, or civil case.
The ACLU's publications below provide effective and useful guidance in several languages for many situations. The brochures apprise you of your legal rights, recommend how to preserve those rights, and provide guidance on how to interact with officials.
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