Detention Watch Network Disheartened By Senate Immigration Bill #CIR
Urges Congress to take a stand against policies that do not align with our country’s values of fairness and due process
WASHINGTON – June 27, 2013 – With the passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) in the Senate, Detention Watch Network (DWN) is expressing disappointment at the current state of the bill. Although the bill contains several positive detention provisions, including considering alternatives to detention for individuals who are subject to mandatory detention without judicial review, the impact of these potential reforms has been curtailed by the dramatic shift the Senate made during closed door negotiations over the weekend.
These deeply troubling negotiations led to the inclusion of the Corker-Hoeven “border surge” amendment, an agreement to dramatically expand border militarization and unprecedented levels of enforcement. This bipartisan deal is a game changer in the immigration reform debate since it will bring the shadow of militarization to America. If this bill becomes the law, it will swallow our traditional values of freedom and liberty for all and gravely endanger our rights and dignity.
“The Senate bill as it stands, with the addition of the Corker-Hoeven amendment, shows that our Senators have bowed down to politics and are forsaking the safety of border communities,” said Andrea Black, Executive Director of DWN. “As a result, they are moving forward with a bill that is not the common sense, fair, and just immigration reform they promised. The private-prison industry and other enforcement industry contractors stand to gain the most from the legislation while families and communities will suffer.”
The Senate bill contains several positive detention provisions, most significantly requiring DHS to consider the use of alternatives to detention for all immigrants, except those suspected of terrorist activities. This means that individuals subject to mandatory detention will now be eligible for alternatives programs. Additionally, alternatives would be redefined to include community-based and NGO models.
However, these reforms are overshadowed by a vast expansion of enforcement that will lead to more immigrants being funneled into detention and processed for deportation. The bill will exclude people with criminal convictions from the legalization process, leaving those individuals vulnerable to detention and deportation. It would also triple the number of criminal prosecutions for border crossers (to 210 people daily at the Tucson Federal Courthouse) through “Operation Streamline” mass hearings, resulting in the expansion of the prison population and private prison profits. Through “Operation Streamline” and related efforts, 82,250 individuals were criminally prosecuted for immigration violations in 2011 alone, constituting over 50% of all federal prosecutions, costing $1,023,615,633.60, and resulting in Latinos now representing more than 50% of the federal prison population (while accounting for only 16% of the national population).
While the potential path to citizenship for some of the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. would bring much needed relief for families and communities, the current bill does not align our immigration policies with our country’s values of fairness and due process. True reform of the immigration system would include the repeal of mandatory detention and exclusion of excessive enforcement that funnels more individuals into the detention and deportation system.