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300 Groups Endorse Call to Close 10 of the Worst Immigrant Prisons in the U.S.

November 28, 2012

Urgency is Building for President Obama to Act and Restore Basic Dignity

Washington, DC – Today, 300 national and local organizations sent a letter to the White House, calling on President Obama to close ten of the worst detention centers in the country while making immediate changes to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of immigrants held in detention.

Today’s letter follows the November 15th release of a series of reports written by community leaders and advocates about the conditions at 10 of the worst facilities used to detain immigrants.

The immigration detention system in the United States has grown drastically over the last 15 years and the appalling conditions in the detention centers that house immigrants have reached a tipping point. President Obama made promises to reform this inhumane system in 2009, but the reality on the ground has not changed.

Now, conditions at the jails that house immigrants have gotten so bad, the only option is to begin shutting them down. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) said: “It needn’t take the passage of comprehensive immigration reform for us to work together to reform the immigration detention system and close the most egregious centers highlighted in these reports. Taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to continue to support this waste of money and resources.”

President Obama has the ability to make our immigration system more humane and effective. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-25) said of the release, “The many problems identified at these facilities show the need to reform the detention system by uniting families in community-based settings.”

Regarding the outpouring of support to close these facilities, Andrea Black, Executive Director, Detention Watch Network, said “We hope the call for closure from such a diverse array of organizations across the country will convince President Obama that he must act. ICE claims it has taken steps to reform the detention system, but the people actually in detention are suffering as much as ever. In his second term, the president has the power to bring about change that will uplift immigrants instead of lock them up.”

The letter is part of the Expose and Close campaign, a series of reports and coordinated efforts to highlight ten detention centers across the nation that exemplify the appalling conditions of immigrant detention, including Etowah County Detention Center (AL), Pinal County Jail (AZ), Houston Processing Center (TX), Polk County Jail (TX), Stewart Detention Center (GA), Irwin County Jail (GA), Hudson County Jail (NJ), Theo Lacy Jail (CA), Tri-County Jail (IL), and Baker County Jail (FL).

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