On any given day, at least 34,000 people are detained in immigrant detention centers in the U.S. to meet an arbitrary lock-up quota dictated by Congress. Stopping the quota would be a giant step forward in ending our reliance on detention. Grassroots Leadership researches and exposes the role of for-profit prisons and their lobbyists in enacting the quota contributes to the growing national movement to stop immigrant detention.
Detention and the #ShutDownHutto Campaign
"The LBJ School of Public Affairs held a conference Friday to discuss violence immigrant women face along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Austin-area immigrants and people in careers affiliated with immigration addressed issues such as rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence experienced by women coming to United States from Central and South America. Speakers also addressed issues concerning women in U.S. immigrant detention centers.
Many women emigrating from their home countries have been victims of violence, and that victimization often continues after they arrive in the U.S., according to Laurie Cook Heffron, researcher program coordinator at UT’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault." Read more about Immigrant women likely to encounter violence after crossing the border, panelists say
Our friend Jorge Antonio Renaud, from the Center for Community Change, reflects on prison reform.
"The Willacy CCC protest was actually the third major revolt reported at a Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) facility since 2008, points out Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that advocates against for-profit incarceration. Grassroots Leadership has long chronicled the all-too-often violent history of privately-run prisons, but few in the public or government actually listen to the organizations that scramble to monitor and report on overall prison conditions. Living environments protested by Willacy prisoners—like cramped living quarters, sewage-contaminated showers and drinking water, vermin- and bug-infested food, and solitary confinement misused as punishment merely for speaking out—had already been described as problems in privately-run immigrant prisons by a 2014 ACLU report, to little effect." Read more about Prison reform is making life inside prison worse, not better
Despite evidence of abuse and her status as a survivor and a pending U Visa application on file, Yolo County (CA) District Attorneys have advanced racist, anti-immigrant, and sexist tropes to paint Nan-Hui as an abuser, leading to what has been a seven-month separation of mother and child. If she is deported, this separation will become permanent.Read more about Humpday Hall of Shame | Stop the deportation of Nan-Hui Jo
"Companies that develop prisons, both for public and private operation, actively seek out economically depressed towns like Adelanto because they make for easier sells than places that might have other options.
'When the corporations pick up that a town is economically struggling, they come in promising economic security, jobs, and other benefits,' said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an NGO working to end for-profit incarceration. 'Affluent cities have the power to say no. That option doesn't really exist in smaller, depressed cities.'
And when a facility closes down, it saddles local government with the responsibility of dealing with the abandoned prison infrastructure and the erasure of whatever income the facility provided." Read more about Inside the Small California Town with a Lot of Prisons, but Not Much Opportunity
Last week, we tuned in to watch Grassroots Leadership's own Bob Libal testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about the monstrous U.S. immigrant detention system. He told the Commission that the system was too dependent on for-profit private prisons and that all types of human rights abuses fester in this massive system. Read more about ICYMI: Bob Libal tells the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights what's wrong with immigrant detention (video)
The policies of criminally prosecuting migrants have built a shadow detention system on top of our nation’s already vast and troubled system of civil detention...Individuals in our nation’s civil detention system include asylum-seekers, women with children, parents of U.S. citizen children, long-time legal permanent residents, and recently arriving migrants. -Bob Libal
Grassroots Leadership's Executive Director Bob Libal will testify before the U.S. Comission on Civil Rights at the State of Civil Rights in Detention Facilities hearing at 2:30pm (EST). Bob's testimony will include evidence that creating and expanding an unaccountable for-profit detention system ineheretly violates the civil rights of immigrants. There are countless examples of civil rights violations in the vast network of immigrant detention facilities that are mandatorily filled due to the 34,000 bed quota set by Congress in a 2007 appropriations bill. Operation Streamline, as Bob describes in his testimony, has criminalized the act of immigration and is another means to expand the reach of the private prison industry in the federal prison system. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is unable to maintain enough facilities, so it contracts with private prison corporations—namely Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group—which have a vested interest in maintaining and expanding detention for immigrants because it provides them with a wider income stream.Read more about Bob Libal to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
We are appalled to learn of CCA’s recent humiliation of a female visitor, a regular, to one of their Tennessee facilities where she was forced by guards to expose her genitals to prove that she was menstruating. According to a federal lawsuit filed this week, despite already being cleared through one security checkpoint and offering to relinquish the sanitary napkin that prompted the scrutiny, she was not free to leave the facility without being searched.Read more about Humpday Hall of Shame: Is CCA running prisons or fraternities?
"Headlines screamed of a "border crisis" as unaccompanied minors began arriving in record numbers in the summer of 2014, sparking protests in border towns like Murrieta, CA from citizens who wanted the newly arrived immigrants sent back to where they came from. The administration's response was to request $879 million from Congress to detain and deport. Congress denied the funds, but Homeland Security forged ahead with the construction of several new "family detention centers" anyway. The number of beds grew from fewer than 100 to more than 1,000 in less than a year. And a newly constructed center in Dilley, TX will have a capacity of more than 2,000.
Watch the Reason TV piece for a glimpse at who exactly is being held in these detention centers at record rates." Read more about No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence
Grassroots Leadership's Cristina Parker tells WBAI host Donald Anthonyson about the new privately-run family detention center in Dilley, Texas and abuses coming out of the Karnes County Residential Center, a GEO-run detention center that began detaining families this summer. Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield of CIVIC talk about their work establishing immigrant vistitation programs, the injustices of the legal system immigrants must navigate, and influences of private prison lobbying on mass immigrant detention. Interview begins at minute 13:00. Read more about Advocates discuss new family detention center in Dilley, Texas
Since 2009, the Obama Administration has considered a number of reforms to make civil immigration detention more “civil” and acceptable to the public, including the release of new guidelines for ICE facilities in 2011. Read more about The myth of “civilizing” civil immigration detention