For Immediate Release
Friday, September 15, 2023
Contact: Jenny Garcia, Detention Watch Network, [email protected]
Washington, DC — Today, advocates gathered in 15+ cities, including in Washington, DC as part of a national day of action demanding the Biden administration shut down all detention centers, release all people in detention, and end deportations. Partners in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region used this opportunity to call on President Biden to shut down the ICA operated Farmville detention center, one of two remaining detention centers in Virginia, whose contract was set to expire on the same day.
In DC and across the country, advocates utilized puppets of President Biden to demonstrate how his actions on immigration have been cruel and indistinguishable from his predecessor, including advocating for private prison corporations despite having previously said “There should be no private prisons, period.” Alarmingly, there are currently 32,743 people in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody – an all time high under the Biden administration, and more than double than when he first took office. More recently, President Biden asked Congress for additional funding for ICE and CBP, agencies with a well-documented history of abuse and neglect.
The actions today echoed the broad consensus of communities across the country who are calling on President Biden to invest in welcoming immigrants with dignity and respect instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on targeting, detaining, and deporting immigrants. In various rallies, vigils, marches, banner drops, and more, advocates coordinated efforts to pressure the President to live up to his promises of a more just and humane immigration system.
Janay Cauthen, Executive Director of Families for Freedom, said:
“All people should be treated with dignity and respect regardless of what country they were born in. Immigrants are welcome here. As the Executive Director of Families For Freedom and a Jamaican American directly impacted Black woman, I will continue to stand in solidarity with all people who are treated unfairly because of their ethnicity. Immigrants built this country. I'm sick and tired of anti-immigrant crusaders treating immigrants inhumanely and using hateful rhetoric.”
Adelina Nicholls, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, said:
“In Georgia alone, we have witnessed the deadly consequences of privately owned immigration detention. We are demanding the shut down of all detention facilities across the country and we condemn the inhumane conditions within. Our collective outrage has fueled us to be here today. Regardless of people's immigration status, all humans deserve dignity, respect, and fair treatment. Free them all!”
Jovanny Hernandez, Co-Chair for Southern Border Communities Coalition and Organizer for the New Mexico Dream Team, said:
“It is our constitutional and human right for everyone to live free of inhumane treatment. Yet while the United States presents itself as a beacon of these human rights on the global stage, we continue to witness the violation of our rights at the southern border. Our tax dollars need to be used to strengthen our families and communities and uphold our human rights, not for the militarization of our beloved borderlands and the targeting, detention and deportation of our families, neighbors and newcomers seeking protection. The Southern Border Communities Coalition joins the collective voices calling for the resources to treat immigrants, border communities and newcomers with dignity."
Sumayyah Waheed, Senior Policy Counsel at Muslim Advocates, said:
"Whether it's perpetuating the Muslim Ban, targeting Muslim asylum seekers for incarceration or separating and caging our families at our borders, it is clear that these are not just Trump era policies. The White House must stop enforcing policies that render unspeakable harms to Black and brown people fleeing unimaginable violence. Our tax dollars should be used to strengthen our families and communities, not for the targeting, detention and deportation of our immigrant friends, neighbors and coworkers."
Juana Aleman Hernandez, Miembra de Migrantes Unides, said:
"El pedir asilo es un proceso súper difícil y muy triste. Nos tratan sin piedad. Yo y mi familia lo hemos vivido. Soy de Honduras. Pase por Guatemala. Atravesé todo Mexico, y cuando llegamos, nos agarran y preguntan, "¿por que se atreven a entrar?" Y luego sigue la vigilancia. Es muy incómodo el ser acosado y vigilado. Creo que migrar es un derecho y no deben usar el racismo y tratarnos tan pésimo. Todos somos iguales, no importa el color, raza, religión. Estamos luchando para ser libres."
Jesse Franzblau, Senior Policy Analyst with the National Immigrant Justice Center, said:
“Congress has the power and responsibility to shift funding away from deadly immigration detention and punitive enforcement programs, and instead invest in community development and logical processing. The funding allocations for ICE detention over the years has only led to egregious profits for private companies and padded shrinking county budgets, with enormous public and human costs. Similarly, CBP’s bloated enforcement budget has led to a windfall for contractors providing military grade sprawling surveillance that harms border communities, migrants and everyday travelers. It’s time for Congress to defund militarized border enforcement and punitive programs.”
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington Director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, said:
“Tonight, as we conclude this National Day of Action, Jews will mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, beginning a ten day period of intense introspection and I cannot help but be inspired by this timing. In this period, we examine our actions, see the gap between how we would like to be and how we actually are—and we make amends with those we have wronged and resolve to do better in the coming year. This is a process that we desperately need as a society with inspiring ideals, but enormous gaps between those ideals and our actions. We call on President Biden in this new year to close the gap between his stated ideals and his Administration’s actions—to stop deporting our immigrant family, to close detention centers you promised to close, and spend less money on cruel and unaccountable agencies like ICE and CBP instead of more.”
Guerline Jozef, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, the Black Immigrants Bail Fund, and the Cameroon Advocacy Network, said:
"We join our colleagues here in DC and around the country to demand the Biden administration to move away from the cruel imprisonment of immigrants, release those in ICE custody, end immigration detention, and halt all deportations immediately. Protecting the civil liberties of those seeking a better life in the United States is a core tenant of our nation's democracy. Throwing vulnerable people into prisons is deplorable—and often deadly."
Luba Cortes, Immigrant Defense Coordinator, Make the Road New York, said:
“ICE has a horrifying track record of mistreating immigrants - denying them access to legal counsel, denying them freedom, and severing them from their families. Despite this, our government continues to funnel billions of dollars into these detention centers. People should be able to navigate their immigration cases with dignity and respect and in the comfort of their homes, not from behind bars in a jail cell. It is time to hold this administration accountable. President Biden and Congress must stop wasting public money by unnecessarily punishing immigrants in these horrid facilities and instead focus on reinvesting resources into our communities.”
Miriam Scheetz, High Desert Organizer, Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice and Shut Down Adelanto Coalition, said:
“Today, we demand the shutdown of ALL detention centers in the country and the release of all immigrants. It is time to get justice for all the inhumane and horrible treatment that has been happening inside these concentration camps. I was detained in the Adelanto Detention Center for two years; we are calling President Biden to shut down detention centers. Now, we are calling on the Biden Administration to stand with us and free all immigrants suffering daily. We demand to FREE THEM ALL!”
Ligaya Jensen, Shut Down Adelanto Coalition; Last Woman in the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, said:
“It is my mission to shine light on what is happening inside ICE Detention. I want everyone to know about family separation and the harm that is being done. Detention causes more harm than good to individuals. People in authority and power should consider how they are infringing on people’s freedom while in detention. We are ending up with physical pains, mental health problems and unfortunately death. ICE Detention should not be happening at all!”
Marcela Hernandez, Organizing and Membership Director at Detention Watch Network, said:
“Communities across the country are taking action today to unite for the rights and dignity of their immigrant family members, friends and neighbors. The number of people in detention is at an all time high under Biden, and more than double than when he first took office. Unacceptable! Immigration detention as a whole is unnecessary, rife with systemic abuses and completely arbitrary. The Biden administration has the power to shut down the Farmville detention center, along with all detention centers, immediately and end detention contracts for good. We are resolute in our demand for communities, not cages!”
Deya Aldana, Campaign Director of United We Dream, said:
“It's cruel to cut benefits for working class people but add funding for the harm of immigrants with this budget. This goes completely against the word of President Biden's promise for a more humane immigration system and we demand better. It is up to President Biden and Congress to not fall into the trap of anti-immigrant sentiments that advance into policies that impact real people and real lives. They must be bold and stand up to hate and shut down all detention centers!”
The #DefundHate campaign, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. Instead, we want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase well-being.