Washington, DC — In response to internal emails by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Houston Field Office stating to 'release them all' per Biden’s deportations moratorium memo, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network offered the following comment:
“If anything this shows that ICE & DHS actually have broad authority to release people back to their loved ones, community and support networks. Immigration detention has always been an arbitrary, inhumane and unjust system. Simply put, people navigating their immigration case should be able to do so with their families and in community, not behind bars in immigration detention. And for those that need support, they should be able to access it through community based programs. Now is the time to end immigration detention and free them all.”
The Current state of immigration detention:
- Number of people in detention as of January 8, 2021: 14,195
- As of January 2020, 81 percent of people detained in ICE custody nationwide are held in facilities owned or managed by private prison corporations.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE has refused to heed calls of detained people, public health experts, advocates, and even federal judges to free people, halt transfers, and take other precautions. As a result ICE detention centers have become hotbeds of COVID-19 infection, and contributed to an estimated additional 245,000 COVID cases in areas surrounding detention centers.
- In Fiscal Year 2020, 21 people died in ICE detention, including eight from COVID-19, the most since 2005.
- Rampant abuse including gynecological procedures without informed consent and the use of solitary confinement for extended periods.
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.