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Georgia Watches Arizona with Guarded Eyes & Ready Minds (#altoarizona)

July 27, 2010

via Priscilla Padron, Georgia Detention Watch

Georgia Detention Watch is scrutinizing the media from day to day, hour to hour, as the tense countdown to July 29 keeps us wondering about what will be the outcome of Judge Bolton’s court hearings?  Will U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton allow some sections of the requested injunction of 1070?  Will a partial injunction result in further legal action?  As the scenario evolves, we prepare to adjust our agenda.

We have composed a letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano to be signed by civil rights activists from Atlanta’s historic past as well as an evolving new civil rights front on human rights.

As individuals involved with immigrant families, we could cite the sad stories of divided families, children separated from their parents, unannounced transfers and deportations, and miserable jail conditions.  This all is taking place here in Georgia–in Cobb and Gwinnett, in Whitfield and Hall, in detention centers in Lumpkin and the City of Atlanta–wherever 287(g) agreements are in effect and beyond. We hear these stories every day and see the fear in the eyes of those who dwell on the edges of society.

Hoping for courage in the White House and Congress to reform immigration laws this year, we urge certain critical changes in the way the Department of Homeland Security administers immigration policy until new laws are passed.

First, suspend the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs.  The flaws in these programs are well-known and documented. Local police often oppose the 287(g) agreements because they distract them from their real work and alienate the people they need to protect.  Instead of making our communities safer, these programs are being used as tools to detain and deport hard-working and law-abiding fathers and mothers. There are potential Sheriff Arpaios in every corner of the country who claim to enforce the law while practicing blatant racial profiling and posse justice.

Second, put a halt to the expansion of the immigration detention system, taking the money out of the coffers of such for-profit corporations as Corrections Corporation of America and back into the wallets of taxpayers by utilizing humane, effective, and cost-saving alternatives to detention. Most immigrants in detention do not pose a risk to public safety and should be released.  Community-based alternatives to imprisonment should be employed for those who cannot be released on their own recognizance, bond, or parole, while they await final decisions on their immigration status.

We are encouraged to learn from ICE that conditions in immigrant detention facilities may be changing to less punitive environments.  However, we have seen little evidence on the ground of the promised changes first announced last year.  Instead, we have witnessed the opening of yet another corporate-run immigration detention facility in Hall County, Georgia.

On July 29, Georgia Detention Watch is holding a press conference as part of a national campaign in collaboration with the Detention Watch Network in front of the ICE headquarters with speakers who, based on their faith, public offices or human rights activism, are committed to Dignity Not Detention for our Georgia immigrants

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