immigration and customs enforcement

Jul 3, 2014
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Austin Chronicle

Hamilton Digs In: Won't End 'S-Comm'

"We're very happy the City Council has taken leadership on this issue," said Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.

"Republican sheriffs in Cali­­fornia, Colorado, Kansas, rural Oregon, have said they're not going to violate people's rights and honor ICE detainers," Libal said. "It's very frustrating that the sheriff continues to demonize the immigrant community and perpetuate outright lies about them." Read more about Hamilton Digs In: Won't End 'S-Comm'

Victory! Austin city council passes S-Comm resolution 7-0

On Thursday, June 26, Austin city council members unanimously passed a resolution to oppose Travis County's participation in Secure Communities. Secure Communities, or S-Comm, is a federal program through which immigrants can be detained in local jails like the Travis County Jail until Immigration and Customs Encorcement (ICE) can take them into custody. The resolution is sponsored by council members Laura Morrison, Mike Martinez and mayor pro-tem Sheryl Cole. No one offered opposing remarks on this resolution. 

Obama administration offers poor response to a humanitarian crisis

A disappointing decision by the Obama administration was announced Friday morning in response to a recent influx of Central American migrants crossing through the Southwest border, many of them children. According to officials, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will seek to detain more of these individuals and accelerate their cases in immigration courts to speed up their deportations. Read more about Obama administration offers poor response to a humanitarian crisis

Attorneys sound the alarm as ICE continues to detain immigrants in sub-standard Waco facility

Attorneys in Austin and Waco are sounding the alarm over the conditions at an immigrant detention center in Waco. They say the Jack Harwell Detention Center is not an appropriate place to house immigrants in detention and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have not done enough to fix serious problems at the facility. 

“Our interest in the Harwell Detention Center stems from a history of concerns about the facility.” said Denise Gilman, a University of Texas-Austin law professor.  “There were strong incentives for the county and the private facility management company to seek contracts with ICE whether or not the facility was appropriate for immigration detention.”

In fact, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards found multiple non-compliance issues at the facility in 2012. The facility is run by a private prison company who expected that the federal government would supply enough immigrant detainees to ensure that the facility was profitable. 

“If any facility is unable to comply with the standards, ICE should ensure that immigrants are not detained there.” said Barbara Hines, also a University of Texas law professor. “It does not appear that ICE officials adequately considered the situation at the facility before sending immigration detainees there.”

According to ICE’s own proclamations, a penal environment is not appropriate for immigrant detainees — the majority of whom have recently crossed the border and have no criminal history at all. “It is very clearly a penal institution,” added Hines.  Read more about Attorneys sound the alarm as ICE continues to detain immigrants in sub-standard Waco facility;

Northwest Detention Center hunger strike ends: "TO ALL OF YOU, THANK YOU FOR NOT LEAVING US ALONE"

After 56 days, the hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, operated by the GEO Group, has come to an end. This strike inspired the hunger strike at Joe Corley Detention Center in Conroe, Texas, which lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to retaliate against the strikers

The Tacoma strike began on March 7 and the men, who now call themselves the "Collective of NWDC-T Detainees" announced on May 1 that they were ending the hunger strike. In so doing, the Collective also issued a letter to their supporters, titled "Assessment of one phase of struggle," which recounts ICE's retaliation exacted upon strike participants. The Collective maintains its committment to its goal, including an end to deportations and for President Barack Obama to take action. Roughly 1200 men participated in the strike. 

Read more about Northwest Detention Center hunger strike ends: "TO ALL OF YOU, THANK YOU FOR NOT LEAVING US ALONE"

45 Additional Counties Join the Growing List of Local Governments That Won't Comply with ICE Holds and S-Comm

Immigrant advocates rejoiced last week as a wave of counties said they would no longer comply with ICE holds (also called detainers) issued under the "Secure Communities" (S-Comm) program. Sheriffs in 31 counties in Oregon, 10 in Colorado and at least 4 in Washington announced the policy shift, citing concerns that ICE holds violate Constitutional rights and expose local governments to legal liability.

The Washington Post reported on April 29 that this development comes after recent court decisions in Oregon and Pennsylvania that found ICE holds are requests, not commands, and that local law enforcement is not required to honor them. Consequently, sheriffs and counties could be liable for any constitutional violations resulting from local law enforcement holding a person for ICE.

Immigrant advocates have long argued that detainers issued under the S-Comm program from ICE are merely requests, and that honoring ICE detainers are violations of due process. 

Grassroots Leadership has been part of an on-going campaign to stop compliance with S-Comm and ICE holds in Travis County, Texas. The question on the minds of immigrants and advocates in Texas is: When will local governments in the Lone Star State join this quickly growing list?

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