Crossing the border was once a matter for civil immigration courts. Now, every day in federal criminal courts along the Southwest border, hundreds of mostly destitute Latino and indigenous Latin American migrants are shackled, charged, convicted and sentenced en masse under the policy called “Operation Streamline.” The program has proven to be a boon for private prisons by funneling tens of thousands of immigrants into federal prisons every year. Through research and advocacy, Grassroots Leadership is fighting for and end to this program.
There have been 4,000 known deaths of migrants crossing the Mexico-U.S. border since 1995. Since 2001, there have been 2,100 deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border alone. That people still make the attempt is proof that they are desperate according to Sr. Yvette Rainville, DHS.
OS is a policy begun in 2005 that mandates thousands of undocumented immigrants crossing the Southern border be prosecuted in the federal criminal justice system. Some feel that the policy has turned migrants into criminals, expanded the need for prisons to hold them, made a mockery of human rights, and created an unholy alliance between private prisons and the government.
The ICE detention budget includes a mandate from congress that 34,000 immigrants be detained on a daily basis. Private prisons own nine of 10 ICE detention centers, according to a report by the Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Interfaith Council, Nuns Urge Education, Action on Private Prisons
Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill) introduced the Justice is Not for Sale Act, a comprehensive bill that outlaws the use of for-profit prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers. Read more about 7 good things that will happen if we ban private prisons with the #JusticeNot4Sale Act
"Immigration reform issue seems to be becoming complicated with every passing day. President Barack Obama’s all efforts to provide succor to the twelve million such people has gone without making any meaningful change.
Now there are efforts to provide some sort of succor to such people, though there is no denying the fact that GOP will oppose any move in this direction tooth and nail.
While talking about the issue Bob Libal, director of Grassroots Leadership, says, 'There’s a conversation going on about how to reduce mass incarceration, but at the same time you have leaders talking about mandatory minimums for people coming back into the country for basically petty immigration offenses.'" Read more about Immigration reform 2015: civil rights group ask DOJ to stop prosecuting immigrants
"A national bipartisan movement to reduce the United States’ outsized prison population is gaining momentum, but immigration reform advocates say an important piece is still missing from the reform conversation: Thousands of men and women are being incarcerated every year because they entered the U.S. without documents.
On Tuesday, more than 170 organizations representing criminal justice, immigration reform and faith-based groups sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, urging the Department of Justice to end prosecutions for illegal entry and re-entry.
Bob Libal, director of Grassroots Leadership, an Austin immigrant advocacy group, said it’s time for the DOJ to reconsider its overzealous prosecution of undocumented immigrants. 'There’s a conversation going on about how to reduce mass incarceration, but at the same time you have leaders talking about mandatory minimums for people coming back into the country for basically petty immigration offenses,' he told the Observer." Read more about Groups Urge DOJ to Stop Prosecuting Immigrants for Illegal Entry
(AUSTIN, Texas) — Today 171 organizations delivered a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for an end to federal prosecution of migrants on entry and reentry charges. Read more about Texas advocates join call to end federal criminal prosecutions of migrants
"While Bill O’Reilly uses the tragic shooting of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinleto call for harsher sentences for deportees who have returned U.S., 171 groups are calling for the Department of Justice to stop prosecuting the charge of “illegal reentry” altogether.
In a letter sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday, organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and National Council of La Raza argued that “these prosecutions further none of DOJ’s own prosecutorial priorities—national security, violent crime, financial fraud, and cases that protect our most vulnerable communities.”
A Fusion investigation found that more than 23,000 immigrants a night are locked up in an immigrant prison system which has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the private prison industry. Fusion found that many government officials who were in charge when the shadow prison system was built now have lucrative posts within the private prison industry. The ACLU says the immigrant prisons are squalid, rife with abuse, and use solitary confinement in excess.
“There’s broad consensus that this is the worst thing you could do. It’s a huge step backwards,” said Bob Libal, the Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, one of the 171 organizations to sign the letter to the DOJ in reference to the Kate’s Law proposal.
'Prosecuting these cases has been enormously wasteful in terms of taxpayer dollars and people’s lives.'" Read more about 171 organizations call on Loretta Lynch to stop locking up deportees
"US billionaire and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is not the only politician intent on barricading the southwestern border of the United States. Calls for 'regaining control of our border' are commonplace in US political discourse, routinely repeated by both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans. The most recent proposal for 'comprehensive immigration reform' is a good example. The bill, which passed the Senate in June 2013 but was blocked by House Republicans as 'dangerously liberal,' included provisions for doubling the current number of Border Patrol agents and adding $30 billion to the border enforcement budget over the next ten years.
The general public overwhelmingly backs these calls for more enforcement. While a survey the Pew Research Center conducted in May found respondents generally supportive of immigrants - 72 percent said undocumented people now living here should be allowed to stay - 80 percent thought 'a lot' or 'more' could be done to reduce unauthorized immigration at the borders.
One important step would be for immigrant rights activists to stop viewing border enforcement as a bargaining chip that can be exchanged for broader legalization of undocumented immigrants, as has happened in mainstream immigration reform proposals like the 2013 bill. 'You have to inoculate the broader movement against trading away the border,' Bob Libal, executive director of the nonprofit organization Grassroots Leadership, said in a phone interview. The general public overwhelmingly backs these calls for more enforcement. While a survey the Pew Research Center conducted in May found respondents generally supportive of immigrants - 72 percent said undocumented people now living here should be allowed to stay - 80 percent thought 'a lot' or 'more' could be done to reduce unauthorized immigration at the borders." Read more about Stop Securing the Border and Start Valuing Migrants' Lives
Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General released a report chronicling a number of egregious practices taking place at the one of the world’s largest for-profit prisons. Reeves C
We release this three-part series now to harken back to our own roots in the struggle(s) for true justice, and to spotlight the re-emergence of a flourishing prison divestment movement in which students, again, are playing a central role. It is in this context that Grassroots Leadership and our long-time partner Enlace, are anchoring major national actions against CCA and the GEO Group, the country’s largest private prison companies, in May 2015. We hope that this series will elucidate the historic power that individuals have had on challenging the for-profit prison industry, and to compel participation in the exciting events on the horizon.
- April 19-25, National Week of Engagement for Prison Divestment
- May 2, Dilley Texas: Close Dilley, #EndFamilyDetention
- May 3-5, Boca Raton, Florida: We Want Freedom, Breaking the Chains and Transforming Communities
Kymberlie's Story, Earlham College, Class of ‘02Read more about Grassroots Leadership's roots in prison divestment, Part I: Kymberlie's story
When the U.S. Bureau of Prisons canceled its contract with Willacy County last week, it explained that the federal inmate population was down, and it didn't need additional beds.
Criminal justice trends ebb and flow. Bob Libal tracks the corrections industry for the Austin activist group Grassroots Leadership. He says where once it was easy to find inmates for a private prison, Willacy County will likely learn now it's tougher to fill prison beds.
"Around the state we have seen several communities that have had their private prisons fail and they're left holding the bag when it comes to the debt that they floated," he says. Read more about Closure Of Private Prison Forces Texas County To Plug Financial Gap