Washington, DC — Confirmation hearings for the new administration begin today in rapid succession starting with Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and General John F. Kelly as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. In response to today’s hearings, Silky Shah, co-director of Detention Watch Network said:
“This is the first test for elected officials to actively resist cabinet picks. It’s clear with these nominees that the new administration aims to ramp up detentions and deportations, aggressively target immigrant communities, and widen the surveillance dragnet.
Senator Sessions proudly supported the harshest anti-immigrant bill in United States history, HB 56 in his home state of Alabama. The bill terrorized immigrant communities through racial profiling and punitive enforcement, while restricting access to basic needs like housing and education. Sessions is also a proponent of private prisons, despite the industry’s well-documented record of abuse and mismanagement. Prison privatization further exacerbates the problems endemic to the detention system such as inhumane conditions, due process violations, and the absence of transparency. This past October two former Sessions aides joined The GEO Group, Inc. as lobbyists, leading to even more influence from an industry driven by perverse financial incentives.
General Kelly previously served as the head of the U.S. Southern Command, overseeing Guantanamo Bay, where he once sought $200 million to rebuild prison facilities and housing for guards at the detention center, despite the resounding call to shut it down. His move to beef up the Guantanamo infrastructure demonstrates his appetite for mass incarceration and willingness to build upon the already massive immigration detention system.
The confirmations of Senator Sessions and General Kelly will result in increased surveillance, further militarization of our borders and draconian immigration policies. The Senate must stand resolutely in opposition to the racist and anti-immigrant ideology at the heart of the President-elect’s administration.”
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention.