Washington, DC — In response to the Biden administration’s appointment of Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez as the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network (DWN) offered the following statement:
“People uniting for the rights and dignity of immigrants will soon have a new face to direct demands to at ICE, which include:
- Releasing people from immigration detention halting deportations (including Title 42 expulsions) amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the interest of the health of those detained and the public.
- Closing detention facilities, including immediately ending all contracts with private prison corporations and state and local governments as a first step towards ending the harmful detention system entirely.
- Adopting generous prosecutorial discretion guidelines in order to protect as many people as possible from detention and deportation.
- Ending state and local entanglement with immigration enforcement, reducing the pipeline to detention and deportation.
“Under Gonzalez’s leadership, we are eager to see immediate shifts in ICE’s culture and operations. During the Trump era the agency saw a constant revolving door of short-lived, draconian leadership that double-downed on cruel and punitive enforcement practices. If confirmed, Gonzalez must hit the ground running to meet immigrant rights advocates' demands and peel back the layers of secrecy that have created a deadly culture of impunity at the agency, where accountability is evaded at every turn.”
“And while we are looking for transformative culture change at ICE, we know that the racist underpinnings of ICE will continue regardless of who’s in charge. Ultimately, ICE’s premise for existing is rooted in white supremacy, rendering the agency rotten to its core. ICE needs to be abolished.”
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.