Fwd: Detention Horrors
- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Amy Novick <info@...>
Date: Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 3:41 PM
Subject: Detention Horrors
To: Leila Pine <lpine@...>
Friends and Colleagues,
Did you know that 91 people have died in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody since 2003? These included long-time permanent residents and many, many non-criminals. Did you know too that a foreign national with no criminal record who has overstayed her visa by a few months can be arrested, jailed for months with criminal offenders, shackled, and then placed on a plane home? Such nationals are then barred from re-entering the U.S. for ten years. Moreover, under current immigration law, the Attorney General is required to detain lawful permanent residents who committed a criminal offense, even if that offense was relatively minor and the punishment was probation. Click here to learn more.
At any given time, some 31,000 individuals are in ICE custody. Many are held in county jails, with very limited visitation, virtually no exercise, and very poor treatment. Even general immigration detention standards are not consistently implemented. As a result, conditions of confinement for immigration detainees vary drastically across detention facilities and have drawn harsh criticism. Just last week, a federal judge in New York held that substandard and abusive conditions in immigration detention are of the utmost importance and ruled that the Department of Homeland Security's 2 1/2 year delay in responding to a petition for legally enforceable regulations was "unreasonable as a matter of law." The court found that no enforceable standards now exist for the immigration detention system, a rapidly growing conglomeration of county jails, federal centers and privately run prisons across the country where problems of detainee mistreatment have been persistent and widespread. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people a year are at risk of abuse and inadequate medical care while the government decides whether to deport them.
What can you do? Send a letter to your Senator or Congressperson now and tell them to support the Immigrant Oversight and Fairness Act. For a sample letter please click here. The Immigrant Oversight and Fairness Act would ensure that the Department of Homeland Security's own detention standards for the treatment of immigrant detainees are followed and would provide more humane alternatives to detention for vulnerable populations. This bill is one step towards ameliorating these very tough consequences of mandatory detention and substandard detention conditions.
What are the other consequences of such detention policies? Besides the physical and psychological harm caused to the detainee, their spouses and children - many of whom are U.S. citizens - suffer greatly. Children often experience depression and some contemplate suicide. Spouses have their homes foreclosed, and families become homeless because a key "breadwinner" is now unable to work.
If the human toll of mandatory detention is not enough reason to amend this provision, the government's astronomical expense of detaining those subject to the mandatory detention provisions is, not to mention the longer term costs to society as a whole.
Amending the mandatory detention provisions in the current law is one of Immigrants' List's key issues for inclusion in comprehensive immigration reform.
Thank you for support.
Amy R. Novick
Paid for by Immigrants' List, not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee.