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In the Wake of Tragedy, DWN Urges Congress to Repeal Mandatory Detention

May 7, 2013

In the Wake of Tragedy at Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center, Detention Watch Network Urges Congress to Repeal Mandatory Detention

Detention Watch Network mourns the loss of Elsa Guadalupe-Gonzales and Jorge Garcia-Mejia, immigrants who committed suicide last week at the Corrections Corporation of America operated Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the organization and its members are calling for Congress to repeal mandatory detention of immigrants through immigration reform and cut ties between the federal government and the private prison industry.

“These tragedies point to long-standing concerns reported by people detained at the Eloy facility, including inadequate medical and mental health care and punitive conditions,” said Alessandra Soler, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona. “Although ICE touts its detention reforms, people detained in Arizona continue to experience dangerous conditions that jeopardize their safety and well-being. ICE must make their review of these tragedies public and include a determination as to whether it was necessary for either of these individuals to have been in custody to begin with,” added Soler.

The Eloy Detention Center currently operates under 2008 detention standards, has no independent oversight, passed its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection despite having nine other known immigrant fatalities since 2004, and is part of a billion-dollar private prison industry, which houses 50 percent of those in immigration detention. Prison corporations like Corrections Corporation of America lobby heavily to secure these government contracts to increase their profits.

“The tragic deaths at the Eloy Detention Center are a glaring example of the continuing problems that plague our country’s immigration detention system,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director at Detention Watch Network. “Leaving outdated mandatory detention laws and practices in place comes with an immense moral and economic price tag. Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have the power to heed the call to do better and enact real change by moving to repeal mandatory detention in the comprehensive immigration reform plan the Senate has put forward.”

Detention Watch Network is also calling on Senators McCain and Flake to exercise their authority and demand that ICE immediately terminate its contract with Corrections Corporation of America’s Eloy Detention Center and release immigrants in these facilities and return them to their families and communities. Click here for the action alert.

The Detention Watch Network works through the collective strength and diversity of its members to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.


To arrange interviews with Andrea Black or Alessandra Soler, contact: Silky Shah at

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