Skip to content

ICE Reforms One Year Later: DWN Press Statement

August 5, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 5th, 2010 (Washington, DC)

  • Jacki Esposito, 202-393-1044 ext 223; jesposito(at)detentionwatchnetwork.org
  • Silky Shah, 212-627-2227 ext 245; sshah(at)detentionwatchnetwork.org

One year after ICE’S detention reform announcement, Some Progress Made, but Little Impact Felt on the Ground

On the first anniversary of an announcement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE, the enforcement agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)) would overhaul the nation’s immigration detention system, reports show that for the nearly 400,000 immigrants ICE has detained this year, little has changed.

On August 6, 2009, in response to sharp criticism from advocacy groups, community organizations, and government officials, ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton promised sweeping changes to improve detention conditions.  According to Mr. Morton, the agency intended to take substantial steps to transform the sprawling patchwork of approximately 350 jails and prisons into a non-penal, “civil” detention system.

While the agency has taken unprecedented steps to address some of its failed policies, significant challenges remain. “Under ODPP Acting Director Phyllis Coven’s leadership, we have seen a number of positive developments in the past year.  However, we are concerned that they have yet to achieve meaningful impact in the lives of those detained.  The reality is, under President Obama’s Administration, more people are being detained and deported than under the Bush Administration, in a manner that fails to meet the United States’ human rights obligations under international law. These practices are inconsistent with our nation’s values and are not making our communities safer,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network.

Some of the steps ICE has taken toward achieving reform include last month’s launch of an Online Detainee Locator System, a tool allowing, for the first time, families and attorneys to find loved ones and clients in ICE custody.  In May, ICE piloted a risk assessment and custody classification tool, which will allow the agency to screen individuals to determine whether they should be released. Historically, ICE has routinely detained people that should have been released.

ICE has discontinued the detention of families and children at the T. Don Hutto Facility in Taylor, Texas, which received national attention when the facility’s substandard conditions became the subject of lawsuits. Today, ICE uses the Hutto facility, which is privately owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), to detain only women. In May, Hutto came under scrutiny once again when allegations surfaced of a series of sexual assaults by a CCA guard against females detained there. “We were heartened that the Obama Administration ended family detention at Hutto and took on reforming the broader immigration detention system,” said Rocío Villalobos, of Texans United for Families, a member organization of Detention Watch Network. “Today, the majority of women at Hutto are seeking refuge from violence in their home countries.  This spring’s sexual assault incidents show how detention subjects people to more violence, which deepens their trauma, rather than protects them from it.”

ICE has also appointed “detention managers” to work in 42 facilities and hired experts in detention management and health care. However, their presence has meant little change for detained immigrants. For example, a detention manager was working at the Hutto facility at the time the sexual assaults occurred, calling into question the detention managers’ ability to adequately oversee detention operations.

The Detention Watch Network, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center, and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, have compiled recent data from groups across the country to illustrate how ICE’s reforms have affected detained immigrants. The groups expect to release a report evaluating ICE’s progress in October 2010.

A snapshot of the reports reveals that human rights violations persist.  In Florida, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center reported that gross deficiencies in the provision of medical care continue, as well as the unnecessary detention of individuals with serious medical conditions. For example, a woman at the Baker County Detention Center who had been detained for five years remained in custody despite her deteriorating health, which involved a heart catheter, ulcers, and lung and orthopedic problems.

Multiple reports were received of inappropriate treatment of detained immigrants with mental health issues, including one man that was placed in solitary confinement after he exhibited suicidal tendencies. In New Jersey, the Middlesex County Coalition for Immigrant Rights described only two working toilets for a dorm with a maximum capacity of 48 that held 60 men.  Groups also report that individuals continue to be subjected to indefinite detention – in some cases for years.

To address these concerns, the Detention Watch Network has launched a campaign, “Dignity, Not Detention: Preserving Human Rights and Restoring Justice,” to call for an end to detention expansion, the use of cost-saving alternatives, and the restoration of due process in the government’s enforcement of immigration laws.  For more information about DWN’s Campaign, visit www.dignitynotdetention.org

# # #

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a coalition of community, faith-based, immigrant and human rights service and advocacy organizations and concerned individuals working to reform the immigration detention and deportation system so that all who come to our shores receive fair and humane treatment.

About these ads
One Comment leave one →
  1. SPO101 permalink
    August 5, 2010 11:00 am

    Brewer already had her own prison scandal of sorts: two of her staff members are lobbyists for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which stands to benefit from Arizona’s criminalization of undocumented immigrants and their being held as prisoners under SB 1070, it takes fear mongering to another level. Let’s all hope and pray that this latest prison escape does not turn out as badly as the Tison gang did in 1978, so Jan time to prep your answers for the Department of Corrections.

    So the Republicans are FINALLY admitting they’re OUT OF IDEAS and asking the public for input (Yah right they listen). Here’s my advice… if you want the Republican Party to make a comeback then QUIT being HO’s for those vain, self-serving, power mad, greed stricken silver spoon con artists that are running the multi-national corporations. Make Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Phil Gramm and those Conservative think tanks ADMIT they sold out the American middle class with the hidden legislation of the 90’s (in sort tell the truth).

    SOMEONE take responsibility for the Bush/Cheney DISASTER. Fess up to all the waste, fraud, abuse, scandal, sexual deviancy, corruption, lies, deregulation, incompetence, job outsourcing, off-shore tax evasion, reckless economics, corporate welfare, war profiteering, Constitutional violations AND a Corporate Crime Wave of epic proportions. The WORST looting of a nation’s wealth and resources in the history of MANKIND!

    And even after the American PEOPLE were just starting to recover then the ghost of Bush/Cheney oil drilling deregulation comes back to haunt the Gulf coast Red States. Y’know, those right-wing nutcases were chanting “drill baby drill” and get the government outta of their lives like they belonged to a fanatical cult. That oily disaster in the Gulf was NOT AN ACT OF GOD! It was the result of incompetent, scandalous government bureaucrats allowing the Oil Drilling Industrial Complex to cut corners… Collusion/Collaboration BETWEEN the Oil Industry and Federal Regulators? WHAT THE #*/!
    NOW these hypocrites are blaming Obama/Biden for not saving them from BP’s oily disaster.

    The Republican/Conservative culture didn’t take the time to consider our coastal borders could be breached (you listen to Rush Limbaugh instead of Greenpeace), people misplaced and natural environment destroyed for decades. All those tax dollars put into Homeland Security and we let Halliburton, BP and TransOcean do the equivalent of nuking the whole Gulf region of our nation. Oil radiating around Florida to reek havoc on the entire East Coast. AND FORGET ABOUT EATING THE SEAFOOD! AaaaaGgggggghhhhhhgggeerrr!

    I’m going to make sure the history textbooks show what a bunch of silly stupid, self-absorbed, victimized, apathetic COWARDS you Conservatives wackos turned out to be (1980-2010). “I’m wondering if those who support that so-called Tea Party Movement really know where Republicans are leading them? It seems like the Tea Party rank and file are being used by a bunch of vain, self-serving, evil, power mad, greed stricken, K-Street Con Artists. The scum of the earth who hide their hideous faces by using Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin as spokespersons. Just look at their agenda items. It‘s like Ken Lay’s or Jack Abramoff’s wet dream:
    1) Repeal Health Insurance Reform
    2) Privatize Social Security or abolish it.
    3) End Medicare
    4) Extend Bush Tax Cuts for wealthy and Big Oil
    5) Repeal Wall Street reform
    6) Protect those responsible for Gulf oil disaster and future environmental catastrophes
    7) Abolish or cut funding to Department of Education
    8) Abolish Dept. of Energy
    9) Abolish Environmental Protection Agency
    10) Repeal 17th Amendment
    11) Rewrite Bible and school textbooks,
    12) Replace JESUS with Glenn Beck, Frank Church with Joe McCarthy…
    13) After USA is destroyed by Republican Party low grade thought processes, BLAME Democrats/Liberals…”

    Remember when the Soviets used to say “America would be destroyed from within”? Who knew it would be the Republican Party to make the Commie’s dream come true. Is there REALLY Americans out there who were ignorant enough to vote for these Republican LOSERS? consciousmc.blogspot.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: