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New DWN and CCR Report: Financial Market for Immigrant Detention Exposed

DWN Blog - June 11, 2015 - 14:19

New Report: Financial Market for Immigrant Detention Exposed

Report Explores Widespread Use of Local Guaranteed Minimum Contracts in Detaining Immigrants in LA, Phoenix, Houston, Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, and More

Washington, DC – A new report, “Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigrant Dragnet” released today by Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights explores and exposes the depth of local lockup quotas in immigrant detention across 15 facilities in half of ICE’s field offices under the Obama Administration.

Major areas with local quotas include: Los Angeles, San Antonio, Phoenix, Miami, Seattle, Houston, San Diego, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Newark.

“For the federal government to contractually guarantee a certain number of immigrant detainees per day violates best practices in law enforcement and is an affront to our entire conception of justice in America,” said Congressman Ted Deutch. “Detention Watch Network’s latest research details how the misguided federal detention bed mandate is spawning a rise of new bed quotas at the local level, which have profound implications for our communities. Having a daily detainee quota increases the likelihood that an undocumented mother waits for months for her day in court from a detention facility when a supervised release could keep her family together at a fraction of the cost to the taxpayer.”

“The detention of immigrants has become big business and a source of profit, yet comes with a significant moral and financial cost for everyone involved,” said Silky Shah, Co-Director of Detention Watch Network. “Local quotas with private contractors and the infrastructure of detention itself have driven this market: all at a huge expense to families detained arbitrarily and to taxpayers footing the bill.”

“Local lockup quotas depend on a lack of government transparency about how these contractual arrangements deprive individuals of liberty,” said Ghita Schwarz, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These contracts provide incentives not only to detain large numbers of immigrants, but also to detain them in specific facilities, no matter how far they are from an individual’s community. When immigrants are detained far from home in order to serve a local lockup quota, they lose access to families, attorneys, and resources that could help them fight their detention or deportation.”

Top lines from the report:

  • By requiring ICE to fill a certain number of detention beds on a daily basis at specific facilities, the U.S. government is allowing private interests a hand in setting policy on immigration enforcement and detention, while at the same time padding their bottom line.
  • Guaranteed minimums predate the national quota’s inception and have existed at least since 2003. Guaranteed minimums exist in 12 ICE field offices, half of ICE field offices across the country, and account for a quota of more than 8,500 individuals combined.
  • The guaranteed minimum at the ICE field office in San Antonio is the highest of any in the country at more than 2,000 individuals.
  • GEO Group has been the most successful company in getting guaranteed minimums incorporated into their contracts.  As such, GEO Group facilities may be prioritized in order to fill local quotas.

See the full report here:

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Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working 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.

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ICE’s New Family Detention Policies Nothing More Than a Delay Tactic, No Meaningful Changes

DWN Blog - May 14, 2015 - 13:43

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh,

DWN: ICE’s New Family Detention Policies Nothing More Than a Delay Tactic, No Meaningful Changes

Statement from Detention Watch Network Co-Director Silky Shah on ICE’s new policies on family detention:

“After successful litigation and months of actions against family detention, including a rally of 600 at Dilley earlier this month, ICE is clearly feeling pressure to address concerns around family detention. Unfortunately their new policy is nothing more than a delay tactic. ICE’s new ‘standards’ for detaining families still don’t meet the basic standards of human decency or rights. Putting women and children fleeing violence behind bars is appalling— and ICE’s latest moves change nothing on that front. It’s time for the Obama Administration and ICE to end their failed family detention program, and close these facilities once and for all. It’s time to remove this stain from America’s human rights record.”

Clinton Underestimates America’s Detention Problem

DWN Blog - May 7, 2015 - 15:48
Statement from Silky Shah, Co-Director of Detention Watch Network on Clinton’s roundtable addressing American’s immigration detention system problems: 

“We are encouraged to hear Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton join the growing consensus that our profit-driven immigration detention system is inhumane and morally corrupt. However, in calling for a more ‘humane’ system, Clinton misses the heart of the problem. Detaining people for a civil immigration violation for months and years at a time simply cannot be made humane. Our immigration system should at all costs work to avoid putting people behind bars for searching for a better life. That means eliminating the immigrant detention quota Clinton referred to in her roundtable, which requires 34,000 people be locked up at any given time. It also means ending detention of families, and it means completely dismantling a system that incentivizes human suffering: no more detention, period.”

Action Alert: End Family Detention Week of Action

DWN Blog - April 30, 2015 - 15:04
Sign the Petition Sign the petition calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldaña to end family detention. Make your Voice Heard on Mother’s Day Sign up for DWN’s Mother’s Day Thunderclap  A Thunderclap is a coordinated shared post on Facebook and Twitter to amplify a call to action. By signing up, Thunderclap will post to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts on your behalf for a *one-time* only post at the same time as others. Participate in an Action Near You on May 2nd

TX: Close Dilley Protest

Protest the shameful detention of mothers and children in the “South Texas Residential Center.”

CO: Aurora Protest

Solidarity protest at the for-profit Aurora Immigrant Detention Center.

DC: Prayer Vigil 

Join for an interfaith prayer vigil for the hundreds of mothers and children from Central America held in detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.

PA: Berks Protest Rally in support of the parents and children currently imprisoned at the Berks County Immigration Detention Center.
  • Location: 1040 Berks Road, Leesport, PA 19533
Host a Screening No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention isa new documentary chronicling the return of immigrant family detention in the United States. To screen the film in your community:

New Policy Brief: Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration

DWN Blog - April 20, 2015 - 13:16

DWN’s new policy brief, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, examines the inappropriate use of deterrence as a rationale for immigration detention. In light of the recent lawsuit RILR v. Johnson, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, provides a broader context of the use of deterrence in immigration detention as a misguided practice of an overall system that seeks to punish and criminalize immigrants.

The lawsuit filed by the ACLU, UT Law School and pro bono Counsel challenges the deterrence-driven no release policy for detained mothers and children with positive credible fear interview determinations (that is, families who the government has found are likely to get asylum once they go through full proceedings). Deterrence as a specific consideration during supposedly individualized custody determinations marks a new level of aggressive and inappropriate use, and it is currently affecting many asylum-seekers, not just families.  

The root of this idea, that you can punish people to stop them (and others) from seeking safety, disregards constitutional protections and the United States’  international obligations. Deterrence has no place in our immigration detention system and is certainly no justification for depriving people of their liberty. 

Wednesday April 1 in #Newark #NJ: Screening of “Detention Stories: Life Inside the New Angel Island”

DWN Blog - March 30, 2015 - 11:56



& Discussion of an Upcoming Project in New York & New Jersey

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is proud to release Detention Stories: Life Inside California’s New Angel Island, a documentary film series that explores the social and cultural world inside California’s immigration detention centers through individuals who are in the best position to describe it: men and women in detention. Come learn about the history of immigration detention in California from the early 1900s to the present and about how you can get involved with our upcoming stories project on immigration detention in New York and New Jersey. 

Date: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 (6:30 PM – 8:30 PM)

Location: Rutgers University, The Martini Foundation Lecture Hall,

123 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102

 Lights refreshments will be served.

 Presented by: Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) in partnership with First Friends of New Jersey, American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program and Rutgers University Immigrant Rights Collective are excited to host the screening and discussion. This documentary film series was produced by CIVIC and made possible with support from Cal Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Cal Humanities or NEH. Experience more at and

Agenda: Come meet the producers, filmmakers, and storytellers. Special presentation by Will Coley, the Producer and Founder of Aquifer Media and the lead producer of Detention Stories: Life Inside California’s New Angel Island. Learn about immigration detention in New Jersey from Sally Pillay of First Friends, which operates visitation programs at New Jersey Facilities. Alix Nguefack, Detention Coordinator at American Friends Service Committee’s Immigrant Rights Program will share policy update on immigration detention in NJ. You will also hear from a former detainee.

This community screenings is free.

A tax-deductible donation to CIVIC is highly suggested.

New ICE Policy Caves to Radical Anti-Immigrant Lawmakers, Needlessly Restricts Release from Detention

DWN Blog - March 19, 2015 - 16:19


Thursday, 19 March 2015


Brett Abrams : 516-841-1105 :


DWN: “New ICE Policy Caves to Radical Anti-Immigrant Lawmakers, Needlessly Restricts Release from Detention”

Detention Watch Network Calls on President Obama to Stop ICE’s Escalation of War on Immigrants


Statement from Silky Shah, co-director of Detention Watch Network, in reaction to ICE’s announcement that it would dramatically ramp up oversight and release procedures for immigrants with criminal convictions:

This announcement is not the result of reasoned policy analysis. Rather it was released the night before new ICE Director Sarah Saldaña was to testify before Congress and represents a preemptive surrender to its most zealously anti-immigrant members. Decisions on immigration policy and the detention of immigrants should never be based on crude political calculations.

During the hearing, lawmakers repeatedly mischaracterized all people in detention with criminal convictions as undocumented and as violent offenders. This ignores the reality that many long-term legal permanent residents are also detained and further that the proportion of people deported whose most serious crime is a non-violent immigration offense or traffic violation has risen significantly over the last six years.

For the minority of people in detention who have past violent convictions, the prevalent anti-immigrant discourse constantly obscures the fact that they’ve already paid their debt to society by serving out their prison terms. We believe that even immigrants who have committed violent offenses shouldn’t be subject to double jeopardy by being incarcerated again for the same offense.

The list of people with no hope of release in US detention centers is growing at an alarming rate: immigrant families, asylum-seekers, and now individuals with prior criminal convictions. Detention, with no alternatives or way out, for such a huge number of people who pose no safety risk to their communities is an outrageous violation of human rights and an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars.

It is increasingly disheartening that the White House, and President Obama continue to pursue and double-down on a failed, inhumane and increasingly punitive response to immigrants and their families living and working in the US.”


For interviews, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at

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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.

DWN Slams Inhofe Amendment to Senate Trafficking Bill

DWN Blog - March 12, 2015 - 13:58


Thursday, 12 March 2015


Brett Abrams :

DWN Slams Inhofe Amendment to Senate Trafficking Bill As Massive and Unconstitutional Escalation of US Detention Program

Detention Watch Network Says Proposed Inhofe Amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act Would Threaten All US Non-Citizens with Indefinite & Random Detention

Statement from Mary Small, policy director of the Detention Watch Network, on Senator James Inhofe’s (R-OK) proposed amendment (Inhofe 275) to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act:

“Simply put – Sen. Inhofe’s amendment is unconstitutional, a waste of taxpayer dollars and unfairly denies immigrants basic US civil rights – like a day in court. Inhofe’s amendment seeks to punish US immigrants who have been leading productive lives for years – in a cruel, and abusive use of federal policy – all without any meaningful judicial review.

Sen. Inhofe’s amendment would dramatically intensify and escalate immigrant detention nationwide, and grant DHS extraordinarily broad powers to detain non-citizens in the US for indefinite periods of time.  

We urge Congress to reject Inhofe’s amendment and work to reform our broken immigration system that needlessly detains thousands of immigrants.”

For interviews with the Detention Watch Network, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at  Interviews available in English and Spanish.


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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.