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Listen: DWN Plenary on 20 Years of the 1996 Laws – Reflections & Prospects

April 21, 2016

From the 2016 Conference in Baltimore:

2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the 1996 laws – the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA). These two laws categorically changed the way immigrants were treated in the U.S. leading to an overall paradigm shift. As a result, the scope of who could be detained and deported drastically increased, setting the foundation for the more draconian and harsh immigration system we have today. In this opening plenary we will reflect on 20 years of the 1996 laws, discuss strategies to eliminate them, and consider alternative visions for migrant justice as we look ahead.

Watch: @JohnLegend & @Juanes Join Call to Overhaul Immigrant Detention as Part of Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

January 22, 2016

Reposted from NDLON:

National #FREEAMERICA Tour Sees The Two Multiple Grammy Winning Artists Spotlighting The Link Between Needed Immigration and Mass Incarceration Reforms

Juanes And John Legend Visit The Notorious Eloy Detention Center, Tent City, and Puente Arizona Community Center – With Pop-Up Performances For Both Detainees And Their Separated Families

  • “John Legend, Juanes Perform Outside Of Immigration Detention Center In Arizona”
    — Huff Post/AP
  • “Juanes and John Legend held a concert in the most unlikely of places today — deep in the Arizona desert, in front of the Eloy Immigration Detention Center, where an estimated 1,500 immigrants are currently being held… The goal of the concert: bring light to our country’s misguided immigration policies, and transform America’s criminal justice system”
    — Fusion

Phoenix, AZ—As recent raids and a pending Supreme Court case push the issue of immigration into the national spotlight once again, Grammy Award winning artists John Legend and Juanes travelled to Arizona, in many ways the epicenter of the fight for migrant rights, to explore the issue. Yesterday, the two multiple-Grammy winning artists visited with people in detention and heard from local families impacted by immigration enforcement, to bring a cultural component to the campaigns to end detention, put a face to those caught in the system, and link it together with the efforts to end mass incarceration. Read more…

Listen: #ICEFreeNYC Rally and Press Conference

January 10, 2016

Rally held January 8, 2015 at 201 Varick Street, Manhattan, NY

In response to the ongoing raids on noncitizens with criminal convictions and on Central American Refugees, we as a NYC community say NO to RAIDS AND STOP DEPORTATIONS. We will not stand for our communities to be raided by Immigration Customs Enforcement.

The ICE-FREE NYC campaign is comprised of New Yorkers of all backgrounds who want Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) completely out of our city.

We are individuals, families, community members and organizations working for safer neighborhoods and an immigration legacy all New Yorkers can be proud of.

Our education and advocacy work is summed up by these 3 demands:

  • Department of Corrections and New York Police Department must end all collaboration with ICE.
  • New Yorkers should feel safe in going to any city agency without the threat of deportation.
  • NYC should use resources to strengthen New York families, not tear them apart.

Introduction of Amendment in Senate to Eliminate Detention Bed Quota!

September 28, 2015

We’re very excited to share that Senator Coons will be introducing an amendment to eliminate the detention bed quota–the first ever amendment in the Senate on this issue! Unfortunately, we have a tight timeline–until tomorrow morning–to convince other Senators to co-sponsor the amendment to show how many lawmakers agree that it’s long past time to remove this arbitrary and unjust quota from the DHS budget.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Call your Senators TODAY and ask them to support Senator Coons’ amendment to strike the bed quota language. Feel free to use these talking points (though you can find much more information here, here and here):

  • Detention operates on a quota system that strives to keep 34,000 immigrants imprisoned each day.
    • Congress requires ICE to maintain a daily quota of 34,000 detention beds and makes ICE’s funding contingent on doing so. No other law enforcement agency is forced to operate on a quota system.
    • The quota pushes ICE to find immigrants to detain and to continue operating facilities with subpar conditions and track records of abuse.
  • Detention is expensive – there is a human cost to our communities and a monetary cost to taxpayers.
    • Current detention policy–driven in large part by an arbitrarily-set quota–means that the families and communities of nearly half a million people are torn apart each year.
    • The most recent budget request for ICE’s Custody Operations is just over $2 billion. During a time of fiscal crisis, it is unacceptable to be spending billions of taxpayer dollars to needlessly detain immigrants. This is a complete waste of resources when other proven and effective methods—including parole, release under supervision, and bond— cost taxpayers far less than detention.
  • Private prison corporations lobby for policies like the bed quota which keep immigrants in detention.
    • Nearly 60% of detention beds are in facilities run by private prison corporations, which rake in profits from the incarceration of immigrants.

2. If they are willing to co-sponsor, they should get in touch with Dan Bachner (202-228-1993 and

For questions please contact:

Mary Small-

Office: 202-846-7058/Cell: 336-339-3918

Listen via @CMSNewYork: Reform of the US Immigrant Detention System

September 18, 2015

Panel on Family Detention, Privatization, and Lessons from the Criminal Justice and National Security Debates: September 17, 2015

While the dramatic expansion of privately-run, family detention facilities has been the focus of the recent debate on the US immigrant detention system, there has been a far longer debate on the system’s overall viability. Most recently, a report by the Center for Migration Studies and Migration and Refugee Services of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops argued that the current system should be dismantled and entirely re-conceived.

This panel of diverse experts discussed the future of the US immigrant detention system, ideas for and barriers to reform, the system’s growing privatization, the experience of family detention in Texas, and cross-cutting issues and lessons from the criminal justice and national security field.

Donald Kerwin
Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies

Susan L. Burke
Attorney at Law, Burke PLLC

Mark Dow
Author, American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons

Judith Green
Justice Policy Analyst and Director, Justice Strategies

Michelle Mendez
Training and Legal Support Staff Attorney,
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

DWN Call Flores Decision a Resounding Victory for Human Rights As Judge Rules Against Family Detention

July 27, 2015


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 27 July 2015

Experts Call Flores Decision a Resounding Victory for Human Rights As Judge Rules Against Family Detention

Detention Watch Network Urges Obama Administration to Accept Decision

Statement from Mary Small, Policy Director of Detention Watch Network in response to Friday’s ruling that the Obama administration’s continued detention of refugee children and mothers is illegal:

“This long overdue decision is an encouraging victory for the rights of asylum-seeking women and children locked up in family detention centers. Friday’s ruling confirms what we have long known– that the Obama administration’s revival of family detention is a failed policy that is an appalling stain on the United States’ human rights record. We call on DHS to allow this decision to stand, release women and children immediately and close all family detention centers once and for all.

Read more…

Detention Watch Network Encouraged to See Families Released, But Concerned with Dehumanizing Alternatives Proposed

July 14, 2015


For Immediate Release: July 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh :

Detention Watch Network Encouraged to See Families Released,

But Concerned with Dehumanizing Alternatives Proposed

Statement from Silky Shah, Co-Director of the Detention Watch Network in response to yesterday’s announcement on family detention issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

“Under increasing pressure, the Obama administration is finally taking steps to limit the prolonged incarceration of mothers and children. The detention system is rife with human rights abuses, appalling medical care lapses, and glaring due process violations. By the government’s own measure, the vast majority of detained women and children should be treated as refugees and immediately released.

Instead, while ICE has finally acknowledged that they should not continue a blanket policy of detaining mothers and children who have a legitimate fear of returning to their countries of origin, ICE has simply replaced one blanket decision with another–this time to fit all mothers with unnecessary and dehumanizing ankle GPS monitoring devices.

Read more…