Grassroots Leadership In The News

Nov 22, 2016
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The Huffington Post

Trump Has Not 'Softened' His War on Immigrants

Last week’s “60 Minute” interview with president elect Donald Trump prompted headlines suggesting that he might be “softening” his immigration stance, compared to his extreme campaign proposal to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. The media have it wrong.

Those of us who have worked to promote sensible and humane policies for decades are bracing for what may very well be an all-out war on immigrants of unprecedented scope and intensity.

Some news reports have offered an unjustifiably charitable interpretation of Mr. Trump’s recent statement to suggest that he is becoming more “targeted.” This view was based on a few short statements where he described vague plans to immediately deport or incarcerate those with “criminal records ― gang members, drug dealers, probably 2 million, it could even be 3 million” that are “here illegally.” Mr. Trump’s numbers are wrong, and his vision is anything but “soft.”  In fact, it is terrifying.  

To realize these numbers during a four-year term, to say nothing of a shorter “immediate” timeframe, would require deportation rates never before experienced in this country. This, despite the fact that migration levels to the United States are relatively low and that the current administration already broke the record for removal of immigrants, earning President Obama the title of “deporter in chief” in some circles. It took the Obama administration eight years to deport 2.5 million immigrants, while Mr. Trump apparently aims to hit those numbers in four years or less. Unlike Presidents Bush and Obama, both of whom used deportations as a political pawn in failed efforts to secure immigration reforms, the President Elect has never envisioned a path to citizenship for our nation’s immigrants.

The population as described by Mr. Trump simply does not exist. Trump’s depiction of 2-3 million immigrants as “illegal,” criminal and dangerous is a myth, rooted in poor math and biased fear-mongering. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has pointed out that the likely source for the numbers is a 2012 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimate of 1.9 million “removable criminal aliens.” But more than half of this group are legally living and working in the United States. In typical Trumpian exaggeration, the President-Elect seems to have ignored that fact, and then tacked on an additional million to the DHS estimate to arrive at the fabricated 3 million.

Though Mr. Trump invokes stereotypes and fears of “dangerous illegal immigrants,” all those who’ve had a run in with the law are threatened, even those who are living and working with proper documentation, with families and no memories of a different home.

Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state and leading architect of Draconian anti-immigrant laws such as Arizona’s notorious “papers please” SB1070 law used to profile and harass suspected immigrants, is Donald Trump’s chief immigration enforcement guru. Instead of deporting only those convicted, Kobach proposes too instead scrap due process protections and deport immigrants who are arrested on suspicion of crimes or gang affiliation. In this model, local law enforcement becomes prosecutor, judge, and immigration officer.

Kobach also advocates using local police officers and jailers as the “eyes and ears of the federal government,” turning arrestees directly over to ICE for deportation. This will likely entail a rapid expansion of “287g,” a federal provision that “cross-designates” local law enforcement to serve as immigration enforcement agents, commissioning them to identify, process, and detain people suspected of being undocumented.

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But a majority in our nation opposes Mr. Trump’s extreme and hateful vision for immigrants. Surveys of Trump supporters, including exit polls, show that the majority support pathways to citizenship, which are not in Mr. Trump’s plans. Universities and colleges are declaring themselves sanctuary campuses. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck will not use local police to check papers or turn low-level offenders over to federal agents. Cities like New York, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Nashville, and others plan to fight Trump’s immigration agenda, with Mayor de Blasio vowing to destroy municipal identification records for immigrants rather than hand them over to immigration enforcement authorities. Churches across the country are declaring themselves sanctuaries to defend against pending deportations.

We should take Trump at his word, and anticipate that his administration will unleash a deportation regime unprecedented in recent U.S. history. We also must resist that regime at many levels by uniting with our immigrant friends, neighbors, loved ones, coworkers, and classmates in the fight for policies and programs that keep families and communities in tact. Read more about Trump Has Not 'Softened' His War on Immigrants

Nov 17, 2016
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Broadly

Trump’s Win Has Already Boosted Stocks of Private Prison Companies

Deporting one immigrant costs about $10,000. According to the United States Department of Justice, the government spends approximately $5,600 on each immigrant held in a detention center. Trump has vowedto deport two to three million immigrants when he takes office in January, which means the US could spend nearly $17 billion on detention in the coming few years. 

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"Federal immigrant detention is the private prison cash cow," says Cristina Parker, the director of immigration programs at Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit that focuses on the private prison industry. "Stocks going up was a very rational response to someone saying he's going to greatly expand the police state and deportation machine."

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"They were on the run, their stocks dropped, shareholders were suing them, things were looking really bad for them," Parker says. "Trump changed all that."

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In one letter sent to Grassroots Leadership by 11 women at the CoreCivic-run Laredo detention center, inmates complained about inadequate medical care and access to lawyers and other representation. One woman said that they'd been kept in a cold room overnight, leading her to develop a severe cold. Another, who has diabetes, said she had to hide bread from the guards so that she could eat it in secret when her blood sugar gets low. The women also complained of black water flooding the facilities, being given food that made them ill, and being denied access to the bathroom.

"When we go out for recreation they watch over us with shotguns in their hands as if we were criminals," one woman wrote to Grassroots Leadership. "Since because of the physical damages that I already have in my body from firearms and the psychological impact of that, they make me feel afraid." Read more about Trump’s Win Has Already Boosted Stocks of Private Prison Companies

Nov 16, 2016
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International Business Times

How For-Profit Prisons Could Benefit Under President-Elect Donald Trump

Among President-elect Donald Trump's primary policy objectives once he officially assumes the nation's highest office is a crackdown on crime and illegal immigration, and investors in the private prison industry, which benefits substantially from such laws, are taking note. 

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"It's certainly true that for-profit prison stocks are soaring on hopes that Trump will incarcerate more people," Bob Libal, executive director of the advocacy group Grassroots Leadership, told International Business Times in a phone interview. 

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Dismantling the DOJ's check on federal use of private prisons, “would be an enormously bad decision—we would be keeping prisons open that we don’t need, or seeking to fill them," Libal, the Grassroots Leadership director, said. He added that Companies like GEO Group “are betting heavily that Trump is going to be the savior of the for-profit prison industry." Read more about How For-Profit Prisons Could Benefit Under President-Elect Donald Trump

Nov 15, 2016
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Austin American-Statesman

‘Sanctuary city’ bill filed as Senate priority

bill filed Tuesday would require Texas cities to enforce federal immigration laws or risk losing state money.

The legislation by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, seeks to short circuit “sanctuary city” policies that prohibit or discourage police, jail personnel, prosecutors and other officials from inquiring into the immigration status of anybody who has been arrested or detained.

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“It’s bad policy and bad policing to mix immigration and local law enforcement,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, a criminal justice and immigration reform advocacy group based in Austin. “People then conflate local police with immigration (agents) and are afraid to call the police.”

Several courts have found that requiring people to be held on suspicion that they are in the country illegally, without a warrant, violates the Constitution, Libal said.

“It’s mandating that communities violate the constitutional rights of their residents, and it’s setting communities up to be sued,” he said. Read more about ‘Sanctuary city’ bill filed as Senate priority

Nov 9, 2016
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The Daily Texan

Travis County elects Hernandez as new sheriff

Voters elected Sally Hernandez for Travis County Sheriff in a landslide victory to succeed the 12-year incumbent Greg Hamilton.

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As sheriff, Hernandez said she plans to address the Priority Enforcement Program, a program implemented by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to monitor Travis County jail inmates who may be in the U.S. illegally.

“As Sheriff, I will be committed to treating everyone equally and fairly,” Hernandez said in an email. “I think that today’s vote shows that this community wants an ICE policy that is progressive and keeps families together. It makes our community safer.”

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Alejandro Caceres, Grassroots Leadership immigration organizer, said they will have a greater chance of reforming the immigration enforcement policies with Hernandez in office. 

“For the first time in recent memory we believe that we can sit down and talk to our sheriff about a new policy for Travis County,” Caceres said in a press release. “We are not only celebrating Hamilton’s departure but also the departure of his policies that have torn the immigrant community apart for years.” Read more about Travis County elects Hernandez as new sheriff

Nov 9, 2016
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KXAN

Immigration advocates torn between Travis Co. sheriff, Trump wins

In the aftermath of local and federal elections Tuesday, area immigration advocates are expressing their concern about the future of the issue in Travis County.

“As the night went forward, we realized this sort of sickening feeling, of like, ‘Oh no, I think that Donald Trump is going to win this,’” explained Alejandro Caceres, an Immigration Organizer for Grassroots Leadership in Austin. “There’s a sudden fear of what happens to me tomorrow.”

Among his fears, Caceres says President-elect Donald Trump’s goals for his first day working in the Oval Office are concerning. According to NBC, Trump said he would:

  • Cancel funding to “sanctuary cities”
  • Remove illegal immigrants and cancel visas to countries that refuse to take them back, and
  • Suspend immigration from “terror-prone” regions of the world.

“The president is coming after us,” said Caceres. “There’s people in the United States who actually feel targeted by the president of the United States… for either deportation, for stripping you of your rights, it is very terrifying.”

Caceres said members of immigrant community groups are fearful of a return to the past. “We’ve gained so many victories in the eight years that Obama has been here, and now we’re in threat of going back. Now we’re in threat of having a program like Secure Communities over again.”

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Caceres said the relief he felt after learning Democrat Sally Hernandez had won the election for Travis County Sheriff was only short-lived, clouded by Trump’s success in the race for the White House.

“We do have a local victory and we can push for something that would be really, really great in the state of Texas and the city of Austin, but at the same time, now we have a president who is one hundred times worse than Greg Hamilton,” he said.

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Regardless, Caceres said advocates must continue to fight for what they believe is justice. “We can mourn today, but tomorrow, we have to continue to organize because we don’t want to go back to where we were four, eight years ago.”

 
Read more about Immigration advocates torn between Travis Co. sheriff, Trump wins
Nov 8, 2016
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The Texas Tribune

Travis County sheriff's race likely to bring immigration policy shift

With Democratic Constable Sally Hernandez assured of victory in the race for Travis County sheriff Tuesday night, the liberal enclave in the center of Texas could be in the crosshairs of state lawmakers who want to ban so-called "sanctuary city" policies.

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Alejandro Caceres, immigration organizer for Grassroots Leadership, a criminal justice reform group, said he welcomed working with a new sheriff. The current one, Democrat Greg Hamilton, riled activists and fellow elected officials with his unapologetic embrace of cooperation with federal immigration authorities. 

“We know that now we have a sheriff that is wiling to negotiate with us, unlike Sheriff Hamilton who has been a massive defender of this policy,” Caceres said. "We are more than happy and willing to sit down and talk with her.” Read more about Travis County sheriff's race likely to bring immigration policy shift

Oct 30, 2016
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Austin American-Statesman

Travis County Jail at election-year crossroads on immigration policy

The era of full cooperation with federal immigration authorities at the Travis County Jail is poised to come to an end in January with the likely election of Constable Sally Hernandez, the Democratic candidate for sheriff who has said she won’t honor all requests to turn over undocumented immigrants.

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“This is years in the making,” said Bob Libal, executive director of the criminal justice reform group Grassroots Leadership. “If whoever the sheriff is adopts a policy like many of these other communities around the country that limits ICE’s ability, that is a good thing for immigrants, and it is a good thing for public safety.”

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Lower-level crimes that result in detainers continue to worry immigrant advocates. Libal said ICE programs can still break up families and exacerbate the challenges immigrant families already face.

“It breeds distrust and makes them reluctant to report crimes,” he said. “If someone serves their time and is rehabilitated, why deport them?”

Read more about Travis County Jail at election-year crossroads on immigration policy
Oct 28, 2016
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Aljazeera

Guatemalans sheltering in US church avoid deportation

Mother and son win appeal against deportation order after taking sanctuary in a Texas church for eight months.

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In the back of the sanctuary sat Hilda Ramirez, a 28-year-old Guatemalan who fled her native country in 2014 with the hope of finding security for her son, Ivan.

At a time when immigration and mass deportations of undocumented people has become a central issue in the US presidential elections, Hilda and her son are a rare example of a successful appeal against a deportation order. 

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There are at least four people who have been granted sanctuary in four churches in the US, according to the Austin-based Grassroots Leadership immigrant rights advocacy group.

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Read more about Guatemalans sheltering in US church avoid deportation
Oct 27, 2016
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89.3 KPCC

California counties look to private firm to run new state psychiatric hospital

A statewide consortium of county mental health officials is planning to create California's first privately-run state mental health hospital. It says it's the fastest way to address the persistent shortage of beds for the state’s most dangerously and severely mentally ill.

But critics of prison privatization worry care will worsen, pointing to past problems with the contractor, Correct Care Recovery Solutions, a spinoff of the private prison giant GEO Group.

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Still, many state and local governments are attracted to the private market's promise to drive down costs. That worries critics.

"They are securing these contracts by promising to treat the most people at the lowest cost," said Cate Graziani, a community organizer at Grassroots Leadership, a group critical of privatization. "And what this results in is a dangerous practice of cutting corners, especially staff. And this is where we see incidents of abuse, neglect and death."

Graziani points to South Florida State Hospital as an example. The facility was one of the first state mental health hospitals in the U.S. to be privatized. It was managed by a division of GEO Group until 2014, when Correct Care Solutions bought the unit.

Read more about California counties look to private firm to run new state psychiatric hospital
Oct 26, 2016
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Texas Observor

Guatemala Mom, Son Win Surprise Victory for Sanctuary Movement

A Guatemalan mom and son who have been living in Sanctuary in Austin have finally received a form of deportation relief for the next year. Hilda Ramirez and her son Ivan had been living in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church for the past 8 months under threat of deportation back to Guatemala. Hilda and her son came to the U.S. in August of 2014 seeking asylum, and spent the next 11 months in the for-profit Karnes Family Residential Facility. Hilda and Ivan were then released from Karnes due to a separate Special Immigrant Juvenile status that Ivan applied for, and because a federal judge had recently ruled against prolonged family detention. 

The two were living at an Austin-area shelter in January when the Obama administration announced a new set of removal priorities that targeted adults who entered the United States with children after May 2014. Despite Ivan’s ongoing application, an order of deportation remained active for both of them.

That’s when Ramirez connected with organizers at Austin’s Grassroots Leadership and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, where she and Ivan took sanctuary, invoking a long-standing practice in which places of worship house and advocate for immigrants, taking advantage of ICE’s policy of avoiding “sensitive locations.”

Eight months later, ICE informed the family’s lawyer that they would receive relief from deportation in the form of deferred action, which protects them for one year before they must renew the status.

“This is an important step,” said Grassroots’ immigration organizer Alejandro Caceres, “but we need to see more faith communities like St. Andrew’s standing up and saying to ICE: ‘You’ll have to get through us first.’”

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Advocates, explained Caceres, had been demanding a stay of removal, a form of relief designed for immigrants who have exhausted all of their legal options and which ICE has granted to other immigrants in sanctuary. Instead, ICE granted deferred action, which is normally given to those who never went through deportation proceedings. A key difference is that Ramirez and her son will not have to attend regular ICE check-ins.

“I can only think it was the community pressure,” Caceres told the Observer, “and they just wanted to make us leave them alone.” It remains uncertain whether ICE will grant the same relief in similar cases going forward. Caceres added that the Austin movement will continue to push for permanent cancellation of removal in the case.

Read more about Guatemala Mom, Son Win Surprise Victory for Sanctuary Movement
Oct 25, 2016
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KVUE

Austin woman and son granted deferred action

For the first time in two years, an Austin immigrant says she no longer has a fear of deportation.

Hilda Ramirez and her son Ivan had been living in sanctuary at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church for the past 8 months after fleeing violence in her home country of Guatemala. During that time they had been fighting for asylum here in the United States.  

Last Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement  granted Hilda and Ivan a deferred action, allowing them to leave sanctuary as the federal government has delayed her deportation decision for one more year. 

“She is able to apply for a work permit, in that year,” said Alejandro Caceres, immigration organizer with Grassroots Leadership, an organization that fights to stop for-profit incarceration. “Able to be in the United States, have an ID, have a social security and able to work and immigration has promised not to deport her."

Hilda is now able to enjoy time in public with her son, such as going to the park and seeing him play soccer. Her asylum status is still pending.  Read more about Austin woman and son granted deferred action

Oct 25, 2016
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Reason.com

Trump's immigration plan would add another unnecessary mandatory minimum

On Sunday, presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his plan for his first 100 days in office, which includes new mandatory minimum sentences for those who have crossed the border without documentation. These prosecutions already make up nearly half of all federal prosections annually. 

The plan would create a "2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations."

Currently, illegal re-entry is punishable by up to two years in prison, although a prior criminal record can add more years to a sentence. Last year, Republicans in Congress introduced a bill called "Kate's Law," named after Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed by a man with several violent felonies and illegal re-entries into the country. That bill would have also strengthened sentences for illegal re-entry, but advocacy groups that oppose mandatory minimums say Trump's proposal would go even further.

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Illegal entry and re-entry is already one of the most prosecuted crimes in the U.S. and sucks up an enormous amount of federal resources. According to a report by Grassroots Leadership earlier this year, prosecutions of illegal entry and re-entry into the country already makes up 49 percent of the federal caseload every year. Foreign nationals make up 22 percent of the federal Bureau of Prisons system, which was operating at 20 percent over its maximum capacity as of 2015. The current average sentence for illegal re-entry is 18 months, according to the report.

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What it [mandatory minimums] can make a statistically significant impact on is the Justice Department budget. The prosecution and incarceration of illegal entry and re-entry offenders under Operation Streamline has cost $7 billion since 2005, according to the Grassroots Leadership report.

Read more about Trump's immigration plan would add another unnecessary mandatory minimum
Oct 20, 2016
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Rewire

ACLU, Advocates Want Next President to Upend Anti-Immigration Policies

Rewire spoke to the executive directors of two immigrant rights organizations about the issues they believe the next president should focus on. 

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In July, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released 'the Trump Memos', a constitutional analysis of Donald Trump's policy proposals and found that his immigration policies 'would most likely violate the Constitution, federal statuatory law, and/or international law'. The ACLU then released 'the Clinton Memos', a series of policies and reforms that Clinton should make if she is elected president. The ACLU's top recommendation for Clinton was that she end family detention, the practice of detaining asylum-seeking mothers and children in prisonlike conditions, with the goal of deporting them as quickly as possible. 

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Texas is home to two of the nation’s three remaining family detention centers, and the organization Grassroots Leadership is currently embroiled in a legal battle over state efforts to license these detention centers as child-care facilities under lowered standards. Grassroots Leadership Executive Director Bob Libal told Rewire that detention is harmful to everyone, but there is plenty of evidence that it has a “tremendous negative impact” on the mental health and overall well-being of children.

“The next president and advocates have a lot of work to do to roll back this massive detention regime that has been built up over the last 20 years,” Libal said. “I think most people recognize that a good very first place to start is to stop the totally egregious detention of children and their moms.”

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Before that debate, Libal told Rewire that advocacy organizations like Grassroots Leadership wanted to hear both candidates go on record about their views on family detention, in particular, because it has been such a major part of Clinton’s immigration platform.

“I think it could have a big impact,” Libal said. “There are a lot of people who still don’t know about family detention and that the average age of children in these prisonlike facilities is 6 years old. We’re talking about really young children. Family detention, I think, has become representative of our entire broken [immigration] system. If we want to know what candidates are going to do about immigration enforcement broadly, a good place to start would be what they plan to do about the mass detention of kids and their moms who are seeking asylum in the United States.”

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If the next president doesn’t end family detention, “and if we continue on this path, it will be a mark on our country’s history,” said Libal.

 

  Read more about ACLU, Advocates Want Next President to Upend Anti-Immigration Policies

Oct 17, 2016
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Raw Story

Is this the end of prison for profit in the US?

This past August, the Department of Justice released a statement that it would begin the process of phasing out private prison contracts in federal prisons. According to the Department of Justice, the decision came in response to a declining prison population and acknowledgements that private prisons often have lower safety and security standards.

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Private prison corporations, such as Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) and GEO Group, were struggling in the early 2000s. However, following 9/11, immigration became a national security issue, which led to an increase in funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The growth in ICE following 9/11 led to CCA and GEO Group being awarded lucratvie immigrant detention center contracts. 

These private prison contracts often include a further requirement that the government keep immigrant detention centres full and at times contain a "tiered pricing structure" that provides discounts for those detained in excess of the guaranteed minimum. Private prison companies now control 62 percent of immigration detention beds in the US, according to a report by Grassroots Leadership.

Following the Department of Justice's announcement, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would evaluate whether it will phase out the use of private immigrant detention centers as well.  Read more about Is this the end of prison for profit in the US?

Oct 11, 2016
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The Huffington Post

Bloodsucking TIC (Treatment Industrial Complex): Video Reveals The Ugly Truth Behind the For-Profit Prison Industry’s Embrace Of Treatment, Rehabilitation, And ‘Alternatives’

The past few months  have been hard for private prison corporations. First, the Department of Justice announced they would begin phasing out the use of private prisons. This was followed by the Department of Homeland Security announcing they would re-examine the use of private corporations in running immigrant detention centers. These announcements caused stock in both Community Corrections of America (CCA) and GEO Group, two of the largest private prisons companies, to drop dramatically. However, a new trend suggests that they are not out of business yet. 

We call it the Treatment Industrial Complex, or TIC. Through a combination of acquisitions and mergers and an aggressive marketing campaign, for-profit prison companies are moving to preserve their profits by seeking contracts to provide in-prison medical and mental health care; manage mental hospitals and civil commitment centers; and deliver “community corrections” programs, including prisoner reentry services and “alternatives to incarceration” like electronic monitoring.

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This disgusting trend is brought vividly to life in a new video produced by Brave New Films in which the TIC is portrayed as a hairy, bloodsucking tick that is quite literally a parasite on state and federal efforts to end mass incarceration. The video lays bare how the profit motive is fundamentally at odds with efforts to truly rehabilitate people. Instead, these companies rely on recidivism and expansion of the criminal punishment system.

Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership Bob Libal warns, “Private prison corporations’ very existence is at risk as the federal government and states around the country rethink their mass incarceration policies.” He points out that the companies can only profit through volume — which means ensnaring as many people as possible and holding them for as long as possible.

Read more about Bloodsucking TIC (Treatment Industrial Complex): Video Reveals The Ugly Truth Behind the For-Profit Prison Industry’s Embrace Of Treatment, Rehabilitation, And ‘Alternatives’
Oct 11, 2016
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Raw Story

New film exposes dangers of the ‘Treatment Industrial Complex’

A new film exposes the 'treatment industrial complex' that has sprung up following announcements that the Department of Justice will begin to phase out use of private prisons and that the Department of Homeland Security will review its' use of privately operated immigrant detention centers. 

As these announcements caused stock in private prison corporations to drop, companies such as Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group have begun buying facilities that provide 'community corrections' programs, such as electronic monitoring, prisoner re-entry services, and other alternatives to prison.

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Robert Greenwald’s new film, “Treatment Industrial Complex,” produced by Brave New Films, shows how these companies are profiting off efforts to rehabilitate drug users and the mentally ill who become entangled in the criminal justice system.

These companies can only make money if they ensnare more Americans — and hold them as long as possible, said the film’s executive producer, Bob Libal.

Read more about New film exposes dangers of the ‘Treatment Industrial Complex’
Oct 10, 2016
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Public News Service

Federal Judge Bans ICE Detainers on Immigrants

A federal judge has ordered U.S. Immigration officials to stop requesting local law enforcement officials to detain certain people without warrant so they can determine their immigration status. This ruling adds to the already intense debate over so-called 'sanctuary cities', where local officials do not have a working connection with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), therefore creating a safe space for undocumented immigrants.

Bob Libel, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, said that the ruling would begin by only affecting six Midwestern states, but he believes it will eventually apply everywhere, including Texas.

"We're not entirely sure what that's going to mean for some of the detainers that are issued here in Texas,” Libal said. "We also believe that the underlying assertion of the court is correct and that will have the impact of affecting other courts around the country."

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The topic has become a major issue in the race for Travis County sheriff, where the Democratic candidate has vowed to end voluntary cooperation with ICE. Advocates said her stance would make Austin the state's first true sanctuary city. Libal says opposition to warrantless ICE holds has been growing in other parts of the state as well.

"In Dallas County, the sheriff said she wouldn't be honoring some detainers, and in Houston, there's been a very active campaign to try to convince elected officials there to end detainers,” Libal said. "We do believe that there seems to be growing momentum against these things."

  Read more about Federal Judge Bans ICE Detainers on Immigrants

Oct 6, 2016
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KVUE

Immigrant detainers ruled invalid in more than 30 states including Texas

A federal court ruling on Wednesday invalidated thousands of immigration detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in over thirty states, including Texas. The ruling will not impact those sent to the Travis County Jail, which detains undocumented immigrants that are being held for deportation. However Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit group, expects that to change. 

"This court decision essentially confirms what we've been saying for years, which is that not only do immigration detainers in the jail break up immigrant families, but they are also unconstitutional," said Grassroots Leadership Executive Director Bob Libal.  

KUVE did reach out to ICE for a statement, but a spokesperson said they are reviewing the ruling to determine its course of action.  Read more about Immigrant detainers ruled invalid in more than 30 states including Texas

Oct 4, 2016
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KVUE

APD, Vision Zero proposal to impound vehicles for drivers with an invalid license

A proposal to impound vehicles for drivers with an invalid license without an arrest is in the works to go to the Austin city council.

The public safety commission, though, voted not to endorse the proposal in a 5-5 vote. Some commissioners voiced concerns it would disproportionately affect a group of people too much.

Immigration organizer Alejandro Caceres with Grassroots Leadership in Austin went further and said this would be an attack on the immigrant community.

“It feels like it is a way for the city of Austin if it does decide to move forward with this policy to push out undocumented immigrants out of this city,” Caceres said.

Caceres says the state does not allow undocumented immigrants to get a license. That’s why he wants the legislature instead to change that.

“We need to make sure that the people who are driving on our streets are qualified to drive so we need to be able to get drivers licenses,” Caceres said.

One commissioner did talk about proposing to the city council to have them lobby the legislature to get a bill like that passed. The commission said they’ll talk about that in their next meeting.

The proposal does not need an endorsement from the commission. Manley said they plan on taking it to the council in the next couple months.

  Read more about APD, Vision Zero proposal to impound vehicles for drivers with an invalid license

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