Impacted Lives, Not Just Detention Beds

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Washington, DC — In response to the proposed bill to avert another government shutdown, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:

“DWN is not only disappointed, but outraged by the political spin taking place on immigration detention within the proposed funding deal. Democrats have mislead their constituents and the media with the false claim that immigration detention would decrease by 17 percent with this bill. In reality, this deal actually increases funding available for immigration detention by about 5,000 people per day (from 40,520 people per day in FY18 to a proposed 45,274 people per day in FY19).

According to the latest reports, the bill does not provide critical restrictions on ICE’s transfer and reprogramming authorities. Such restrictions are desperately needed in light of a multi-year pattern of abuse by ICE in which they make up for their overspending by raiding other agencies’ accounts.

This massive expansion of the immigration detention system doesn’t come down to numbers or detention beds, it results in people separated from their loved ones, communities reeling and lives in jeopardy. Spinning an increase in funding for immigration detention as some kind of political win erases the real human suffering it causes. It is also deeply disrespectful to the individuals and families who are directly impacted by the violent detention system and the communities who now live at heightened risk because of its expansion.

We call on Congress to vote ‘no’ on this bill, recognizing the devastating human impact of immigration detention. Congress can and should keep the government open, without funding Trump’s wall or more harsh immigration enforcement, by passing a clean year-long continuing resolution, and by ensuring significant cuts in funding to ICE and Customs and Border Protection in FY20.”

Detention Watch Network members issued the following statements on the impact of immigration detention:

Maru Mora Villalpando, NWDC Resistance said:

“As undocumented leaders working alongside people in detention we must not allow Democrats to continue using us for their political maneuvers. Hunger strike after hunger strike at detention centers throughout the country have proven the need to close detention centers not to expand them, have proven the brutality and impunity in which ICE operates and the need to abolish the entire agency, not to give them more money to terrorize and torture our immigrants communities. It’s clear the Democrats have chosen a side, and that is not the side of justice but they have sided with ICE.”

Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South said:

“At the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, three people have died since May 2017, two of them by suicide after being placed in solitary confinement for prolonged periods. At the Irwin County Detention Center where the musician #21Savage was recently held, the immigrants’ rights leader Eduardo Samaniego was held in solitary under suicide watch for more than two weeks; his mental health severely deteriorated and he was ultimately forced to leave his life and community in the US. These deadly and inhumane facilities need to be shut down, not expanded.”

Hena Mansori, National Immigrant Justice Center said:

“Every day, my colleagues and I provide legal representation for people locked up in ICE-contracted county jails in the Midwest. They have been swept into the system as a result of racial profiling and our country’s obsession with criminalizing immigrants, or because they came to this country seeking safety from persecution and were locked up. Immigration detention separates people from their families, often making their loved ones destitute; exacerbates both physical and mental health conditions; and treats people as less than human. Fueling a further expansion of ICE detention will only result in more human rights and due process violations.”


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