Change.org blogger Lauren Markham, in her post Immigration Detention Designed to Break the Will of Detainees, quotes our report on visiting immigrant detainees in NJ jails.
As stated in the well-known report “Locked Up But Not Forgotten”: “In effect, immigration detention is punishment – not just for the immigrants in detention, but for their families and communities as well.”
She has an action alert calliing on Napolitano to allow contact visits across the board, including mention of the report in the email to Napolitano. We’ve sent the Secretary the report and heard back on her behalf from Phyllis Coven, ICE’s outreach person, saying they have every intention of opening access to families and community for people in their custody and plan to allow a minimum of one hour for visits, just as soon as the new detention standards come out (they’ve been stalled this summer). I’m afraid alot of field offices and facilities haven’t gotten the memo.
Aside from a few facilities shutting down (there are now 270 nationwide instead of the 350 there were a year ago), nothing’s changed, in fact, deportations and detention under Obama has increased and last month ICE signed a new contract with Orange County, CA to house between 850 and 1,400 detainees in two jails there. I so wanted to be at the county board meeting where they voted to rent the bed space, to the tune of $35 million, and ask the county supervisors if they knew what the staffing costs would be to provide 900 detainees with hour long visits. The proposal seemed to only include the expenses for building immigration courts in one of the facilities.
Here were some comments from our August 5th press release on the one year anniversary (Aug 6) of Assistant Secretary “Build a Better Mousetrap” Morton’s announcement that ICE would move away from detaining people in criminal settings.
“Instead of seeing improved conditions for immigrant detainees in facilities like Monmouth County jail, we’re seeing more detention beds, people being moved from facility to facility without easy access to counsel or family visits, and ongoing violations of ICE’s own national detention standards,” said Daniel Cummings…
On Monday, the ACLU of Southern California and its partners, including the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, filed the first class action lawsuit in the country on behalf of mentally ill and mentally disabled detainees who are “left defenseless in a system they cannot comprehend” where, according to the complaint, “the Government has established no procedures for identifying whether a person is ‘incompetent’ in the first instance; no procedures for evaluating the mental health of individuals in immigration proceedings… no system for appointing counsel for those incompetent to represent themselves; and no rules for determining how people subject to prolonged detention as a result of their mental disabilities can be considered for release from incarceration pending resolution of their immigration cases.”
“Assistant Secretary Morton issued a June 30th memo directing field offices not to spend detention resources on vulnerable populations, including the elderly and mentally ill or disabled. But vulnerable detainees continue to be held in New Jersey jails, including Monmouth County jail,” said Karina Wilkinson
Casa Freehold, New Labor and the Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights are calling on Monmouth County Sheriff Golden to end the Monmouth County contract with ICE.
His number is: 732-431-7139 in case you want to join our call to end detention in Monmouth.