immigration and customs enforcement
A recent Homeland Security Department decision to consider ending the widespread outsourcing of immigrant detention could mean overhauling a $2 billion-a-year system built around private prison contractors that house the majority of immigrant detainees.
Critics of ICE question why there are so many people in custody when illegal immigration has slowed significantly. “The growth in the private-prison industry has been driven by more enforcement that fills beds, even at a time of relatively low immigration levels,” said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that studies for-profit incarceration and favors ending it.
The immigrant-bed quota, which Congress first mandated in 2009, benefits the private-prison industry and promotes detention, Mr. Libal and others say. Read more about Immigrant Detention System Could Be in Line for an Overhaul
On Monday, immigration activists demanded to see Mayor Steve Adler. It happened after a walk out at the Public Safety Council meeting where law enforcement gave the council an update on its policy of arresting illegal immigrants.
The ICE out of Austin group walked up the city hall steps to the mayor's office. They want the mayor to draft a resolution that stops Austin Police from working with ICE. Read more about Immigration activists confront mayor about Austin deportations
Hilda Ramirez, 28, and her 9-year-old son fled violence in Guatemala and were taken into custody as soon as they crossed the border. They were held at an immigration center southeast of San Antonio for 11 months.
Ramirez and her son now live at a shelter in Austin. She said she is in constant fear they could get deported at any time, especially if a police officer notifies immigration officials.
“I suffered a lot there, I came to ask you for help,” Ramirez told Austin Mayor Steve Adler on Monday.
Ramirez and two dozen members of ICE out of Austin, an immigrant advocacy group, gathered at City Hall and asked Adler to pass a resolution to ban Austin police from communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The group is accusing police officers of asking people about their immigration status and sharing information with federal authorities.
“There’s not a lot related to national immigration policy that is in city’s hands. What’s is in our hands is the conduct of our law enforcement and police,” Adler said. “If there are people in the community not treated well, I want those people to come to me so I can do something about it.”
At Monday’s Public Safety Committee, Police Chief of Staff Brian Manley said Austin is not a sanctuary city but highlighted that his officers are focused on crime fighting rather than asking people about immigration status.
In a letter, the group acknowledged Adler’s support to the immigrant community but highlighted the lack of action from city officials to stop deportation.
“We cannot accept any more delays because inaction on deportations locally means Austin families will continue to be separated,” the letter states. Read more about Immigration advocates rally at Mayor Adler’s office, demand action
Un grupo de activistas de la organización ICE out of Austin/ICE Fuera De Austin se reunió el lunes a las afueras de la oficina del Alcalde Steve Adler para pedir un fin a la colaboración de la policía local con el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas o ICE.
“Queremos que él tenga acciones con respecto a esto el solamente tiene que decirle a la policía no vas a cooperar con inmigración”, dijo Carmen Zuvieta, quien junto a otros miembros del grupo pidieron que la oficina del alcalde haga todo en su poder para detener las deportaciones en Austin. “A mi me da miedo por todos los demás es un trauma que llevas no sólo por mí por mis hijos por los demás es dolor adentro”.
Los activistas presionaron a Adler para que desarrolle una resolución y que le ponga una fecha a su aprobación.
“Sólo basta que el haga acciones porque ya promesas ya nos cansamos, ya esperamos”, dijo Zuvieta. Read more about Activistas piden que autoridades de Austin no colaboren con ICE
ICE Out of Austin – a group pushing for local law enforcement to no longer cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain or deport undocumented immigrants – arrived outside of Adler’s office shortly before 5:30 p.m., belting out chants in English and Spanish and demanding a meeting with the mayor. Group leader Alejandro Caceres rejected an offer from a mayoral aide to meet with Adler in his office, saying that group members wanted the meeting to be public.
Adler responded that he was unsure whether a resolution was “the best way” to offer protections to the community.
“But we’re telling you that it is the best way, actually,” responded Caceres. “We’re telling you that we’re tired of families getting deported, we’re tired of politicians saying we have to be patient.”
“We see you as an ally and a friend, Mayor Adler, but if you’re telling us that you’re not going to put forward a resolution, then you stand with ICE and deportations,” Caceres added. “There is no gray line.” Read more about Immigrant rights activists confront mayor over deportations
WHAT: An Austin people’s hearing on the local deportation crisis
WHO: The ICE Out of Austin campaign members
WHEN: Monday, January 25, 5:00 p.m.
WHERE: City of Austin City Hall Atrium, 301 W 2nd St. Read more about Austin’s immigrant community to hold a people’s hearing on deportations at Austin City Hall
The immigrant detention quota, first written into the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations act in 2009, requires 34,000 detention beds to be maintained each day. Read more about Why you should care about the immigrant detention quota
A letter to the editor from Bethany Carson, immigration policy analyst and organizer says, "the Monitor’s June 28 editorial on family detention centers cited ankle monitoring as a key alternative to long-term family detention. While the inhumane warehousing of asylum seekers in secure, for-profit facilities must come to an end, ankle monitoring is an alternative form of detention — not an alternative to detention...
Ankle monitors are particularly inappropriate to use with certain groups, as illuminated after they were placed on 400 Garífuna women in New York. An international advocacy group working with the women stated that this electronic shackling caused them to recall their historic trauma of enslavement by colonizers in Honduras.
Electronic monitoring also carries a profit incentive for the same corporation that runs the family detention camp at Karnes City: GEO Group Inc. BI Inc., which contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to provide electronic monitoring, was acquired by GEO Group in 2011 — a corporation which has spent enormous sums on political contributions and lobbying on immigration issues." Read more about Letter to the Editor: Ankle monitoring is an alternative form of detention, not an alternative to detention
A House lawmaker says he expects the Obama administration to find enough illegal immigrants to fill the detention beds Congress funds — or face budgetary consequences.
Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, says the administration is confused in its interpretation of a law (PL 114-4) that funds 34,000 beds for those detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Culberson says the agency is required to fill the beds, not just have them on hand.
If ICE keeps falling short of the quota, Congress will use its power of the purse to push changes, he told CQ RollCall in an interview.
Meanwhile, legal advocacy groups are making the case that immigrants shouldn't be imprisoned for minor civil infractions. They're protesting private prison companies they say lobby for policies that over-criminalize immigrants.
Grassroots Leadership, a social justice group that opposes for-profit incarceration, says ICE's two largest private prison contractors – Geo Group Inc. and Corrections Corporation of America – were major supporters of increases to the detention bed quota, which was first written into law in 2010.
Since then, the two companies have increased their share in the immigration detention system, now operating eight of the 10 largest detention centers and 72 percent of the privately contracted ICE beds, according to a recent report by Grassroots Leadership. Read more about Republicans Bedcheck an Immigration Detention Program