Washington, DC — Today, Detention Watch Network launched a new campaign, #CommunitiesNotCages, aimed at halting the massive expansion of the immigration detention system. With nearly 44,000 immigrants being held daily in a network of over 200 detention centers across the country, the #CommunitiesNotCages campaign amplifies the longstanding local organizing of Detention Watch Network members and advocates across the country, while building a nationally coordinated strategy to stop the expansion and ultimately abolish immigration detention in its entirety.
“This campaign is led by our members who have been organizing against proposed immigrant detention centers in their own communities for years,” said Barbara Suarez Galeano, Organizer at Detention Watch Network. “At a time when Trump’s racist administration is doing everything it can to separate loved ones and strip people of their dignity to advance his anti-immigrant agenda, we are collectively exposing ICE’s corruption, the perverse financial incentives of local governments and demanding another reality built on freedom and justice.”
For years, the midwest has faced constant expansion efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build on its already massive, inhumane and deadly system of detention.
“For the past seven years, ICE has proposed detention centers in eight communities in the areas surrounding Chicago,” said Fred Tsao, senior policy counsel at Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “And each time community leaders have organized, pushed back, and stopped these proposals, exposing the deceptive tactics that ICE and private prison companies use to try to win over local governments and strongly asserting that communities are safer without ICE.”
The scope of Trump’s immigrant detention system is unprecedented, as a new interagency agreement between ICE and the Bureau of Prisons has been dangerously realized in the last six months, and as ICE explores a similar partnership with the Department of Defense. These agreements come alongside Congress approving ICE’s biggest detention budget ever in Fiscal Year 2018, dangerously raising the fraught agency’s budget year after year and bailing them out whenever they overspend.
“The detention system is an embarrassment to this country and a threat to immigrant lives,” added Antonio Serrano of the #WyoSayNo grassroots coalition dedicated to stopping the proposed Uinta County Detention Center in Wyoming. “The death toll in ICE custody which every single one of us should find alarming, underscores that the immigration detention system continues to have poor conditions, a lack of accountability and a culture of violence and neglect that results in system-wide abuses — this spreading disease of ICE detention must be stopped and we will stop it.”
For more on the campaign, including a map of new detention facility construction and expansion of existing facilities, visit: https://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/take-action/communitiesnotcages
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. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org.