Friday, July 31, 2009

Immigrant Detainees Hunger Strike Over Conditions


NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A group of detainees at a Louisiana immigration detention center have begun three-day hunger strikes to protest poor conditions there, immigrant advocates said.

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Report from New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Immigration detention centers fail government's own standards

LA Times blog

The federal government routinely failed to follow its own standards
regulating immigration detention centers across the country, denying detainees
sufficient recreation time and adequate access to attorneys, legal materials and
telephones, according to a new report issued today.

As a result of the widespread violations, hundreds of thousands of
detainees faced tremendous challenges in making their case to stay in the U.S.
and were frequently denied basic due process rights, according to the report.

“The findings in our report raise serious of doubts as to whether the
hundreds of thousands of immigrant detained each year get a fair shot at
justice,” said one of the authors, Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law

The report is based primarily on thousands of pages of reviews conducted by
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 2001 to 2005, turned over by court
order in a legal case. The authors also studied reviews of detention centers by
the American Bar Assn. and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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Read NILC's "A Broken System":

Immigrant Detention Rules Rejected

Published: July 28, 2009
New York Times

The Obama administration has refused to make legally enforceable rules for immigration
detention, rejecting a federal court petition by former detainees and their
advocates and embracing a Bush-era inspection system that relies in part on
private contractors.

The decision, contained in a six-page letter received by the plaintiffs this
week, disappointed and angered immigration advocacy organizations around the
country. They pointed to a stream of newly available documents that underscore
the government’s failure to enforce minimum standards it set in 2000, including
those concerning detainees’ access to basic health care, telephones and lawyers,
even as the number of people detained has soared to more than 400,000 a year.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Debate Intensifies Over Deportations

Homeland Security's new Secure Communities program is one to watch and criticize in the coming months.

Published: July 25, 2009
New York Times

HOUSTON — The Obama administration is vastly expanding a federal effort begun under President George W. Bush to identify and deport illegal immigrants held in local jails. But here in the city where the effort got a trial start eight months ago, people on each side of the immigration debate have found fault with it.

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Big-City Police Chiefs Urge Overhaul of Immigration Policy

Published: July 1, 2009

MIAMI — Seeking to inject their views into the revived debate over immigration
overhaul, several big-city police chiefs urged Congress on Wednesday to draft a
new policy that improves public safety by bringing illegal immigrants out of the

The chiefs — updating recommendations
made in 2006 by the leaders of more than 50 urban police departments — called
for an overhaul that would integrate immigrants into the legal system, possibly
with driver’s licenses, and separate the local police from immigration


Immigrant’s Criminal Past Colors a Group’s Legal Challenge to Detentions

Published: June 11, 2009
New York Times

The news media campaign was all set to go. There was even a Web site ready
with a sympathetic profile of Alexander Alli, 49, the man the American
Civil Liberties Union
had chosen as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking
custody hearings for more than 1,000 legal immigrants long locked up while they
challenged the government’s efforts to deport them on the basis of criminal

But at the last minute someone at the civil liberties union checked the
details of Mr. Alli’s criminal history. It turned out that Mr. Alli, a native of
Ghana whose wife and three children, all United States citizens, live in the
Bronx, had taken part in one of the biggest cases of identity theft in this
country. [...]

Not a perfect poster boy. The press release and the Web site were scuttled,
and lawyers even considered dropping Mr. Alli in favor of a plaintiff whose
offense was less serious. But last month, the lawsuit went forward in his name —
without publicity.

The case shows the difficulties of making an important constitutional
argument on behalf of a not-always-sympathetic group: people battling
deportation based on past crimes. Maria Archuleta, a spokeswoman for the civil
liberties organization, called the original plan to showcase Mr. Alli a mistake,
saying, “We have learned a very hard lesson to more thoroughly check all of our

Still, the lawyers said, his case illustrates the lawsuit’s central
argument: that it is illegal for the government to lock someone up for months or
years without a hearing to determine if prolonged detention is justified.