Sunday, October 1, 2023

Activists call for immigration detention centers to close

WASHINGTON – Immigration advocates gathered in more than 15 cities, including Washington, D.C., as part of a nationwide day of action, calling on the Biden administration to close all detention centers, release all detainees and end deportations.

Partners in the D.C. region, Maryland and Virginia used this opportunity to call on President Biden to close the Farmville Detention Center, one of two remaining detention centers in Virginia whose contract was set to expire on the same day.

In D.C. and across the country, advocates used puppets of President Biden to demonstrate how cruel his approach to immigration policy was, indistinguishable from that of his predecessor, including defending private prison companies, even though he had previously said, “It should “There will be no private prisons, period.”

Worryingly, there are currently 32,743 people in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, an all-time high under the Biden administration and more than double the number when he took office.

Recently, President Biden asked Congress for additional funding for ICE and CBP, agencies with a well-documented history of abuse and neglect, advocates noted.

Today’s actions reflected the broad consensus of communities across the country calling on President Biden to invest in welcoming immigrants with dignity and respect, rather than wasting taxpayer dollars on the targeted detention and deportation of immigrants.

At various rallies, vigils, marches, banner sackings and more, advocates coordinated their efforts to pressure the president to make good on his promises of a fairer and more humane immigration system.

Janay Cauthen, executive director of Families for Freedom, said: “All people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of the country in which they were born.” Immigrants are welcome here. As CEO of Families For Freedom and a Jamaican-American who has directly advocated for Black women, I will continue to stand in solidarity with all people who are treated unfairly because of their race. Immigrants built this country. “I’m tired of xenophobic crusaders treating immigrants inhumanely and using hateful rhetoric.”

Adelina Nicholls, executive director and co-founder of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, said only in Georgia has the community experienced the deadly consequences of private immigrant detention.

“We call for the closure of all detention centers across the country and condemn the inhumane conditions there.

“Our collective outrage is what drove us to be here today. Regardless of people’s immigration status, all people deserve dignity, respect and fair treatment,” he said.

Jovanny Hernández, co-chair of the Coalition of Southern Border Communities and organizer of the New Mexico Dream Team, said: “It is our constitutional and human right that we all live free from inhumane treatment.” But while the United States stands as a beacon on the world stage These human rights apply, we continue to witness the violation of our rights at the southern border.”

Hernández said tax dollars should be used to strengthen our families and communities and defend our human rights, not to militarize border areas and attack, detain and deport families, neighbors and newcomers seeking protection.

“Whether it’s upholding the Muslim ban, detaining Muslim asylum seekers, or separating and detaining our families at our borders, it’s clear that this is not just a Trump-era policy. The White House must stop pursuing policies that cause unspeakable harm to Black people and people of color fleeing unimaginable violence.

“Our tax dollars should be used to strengthen our families and communities, not to attack, detain and deport our immigrant friends, neighbors and colleagues,” said Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy advisor at Muslim Advocates.

For Juana Alemán Hernández, member of Migrantes Unides, applying for asylum is an extremely difficult and very sad process.

“They treat us mercilessly. Me and my family experienced it. I am from Honduras. Drive through Guatemala. I crossed all of Mexico and when we arrived they grabbed us and asked, “Why do you dare come in?” And then the surveillance continues. It is very unpleasant to be harassed and watched.

“I believe that migration is a right and they shouldn’t use racism and treat us so badly. We are all equal, regardless of skin color, race or religion. “We fight for freedom,” he declared.

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action in Washington, noted: “Tonight, at the conclusion of this national day of action, Jews will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, beginning a ten-day period of intense introspection and I can can’t help but feel inspired by this moment.

During this time, he noted, “we examine our actions, recognize the gap between what we would like to be and what we actually are, and we make amends to those we have wronged and resolve “To do better next year.” This is a process we desperately need as a society with inspiring ideals, but with large gaps between those ideals and our actions. In this new year, we call on President Biden to close the gap between his administration’s stated ideals and actions: stop the deportation of our immigrant family, close the detention centers he promised to close, and cut funding for cruel and unaccountable authorities like ICE and CBP instead of spending more.”

Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, the Black Immigrants Bail Fund and the Cameroon Advocacy Network, said: “We join our colleagues here in DC and across the country in demanding that the Biden administration move away from cruel incarceration .” Immigrants, release those in ICE custody, end immigrant detention, and stop all deportations immediately. Protecting the civil liberties of those seeking a better life in America is a fundamental element of our country’s democracy. Detaining vulnerable people in prison is deplorable and often fatal.”

Luba Cortés, Immigrant Advocacy Coordinator at Make the Road New York, said: “ICE has a horrific history of mistreating immigrants: denying them access to legal representation, denying them their freedom, and separating them from their families. Yet our government continues to pump billions of dollars into these detention centers. People should be able to process their immigration cases with dignity and respect and from the comfort of their own home, not behind bars in a jail cell. It is time to hold this government to account. “President Biden and Congress must stop needlessly wasting public funds and punishing immigrants in these horrific facilities and instead focus on reinvesting resources in our communities.”

Miriam Scheetz, an organizer with High Desert, Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice and Shut Down Adelanto Coalition, said: “Today we are calling for the closure of ALL detention centers in the country and the release of all immigrants. It is time to seek justice for all the inhumane and horrific treatment that took place in these concentration camps. I was held in the Adelanto Detention Center for two years; Let’s call on President Biden to close detention centers. Now we call on the Biden administration to support us and release all immigrants who suffer every day.”

Ligaya Jensen, Coalition to Close Advance; The last woman at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center said, “My mission is to shed light on what is happening at the ICE detention center. I want everyone to know about family separation and the damage it causes. Incarceration does more harm than good to people. Those in authority and power should consider how they violate the freedom of others while incarcerated. In the end we have physical pain, psychological problems and unfortunately death. ICE detentions shouldn’t be happening at all!”

Marcela Hernández, Director of Organization and Membership at the Detention Watch Network, said: “Communities across the country are taking steps today to unite for the rights and dignity of their immigrant family members, friends and neighbors. The number of people incarcerated under the Biden administration is at an all-time high, more than double what it was when he took office. Unacceptable! Immigrant detention as a whole is unnecessary, riddled with systemic abuses, and completely arbitrary. The Biden administration has the authority to immediately close the Farmville detention center and all detention centers and permanently end detention contracts. “We are determined to demand communities, not cages!”

Deya Aldana, campaign director for Unidos Soñamos, said: “It is cruel to cut benefits for the working class but add funding to harm immigrants with this budget.” This is in complete contradiction to President Biden’s promise of a more humane immigration system, and we demand a better one. It is up to President Biden and Congress not to fall into the trap of anti-immigrant sentiment driving policies that impact real people and lives. You must be brave and resist the hatred and the closure of all prisons!

Nation World News Desk
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