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Immigration Experts & Advocates Highlight Upcoming USCCR Hearing

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A recording of the call is available here.

Earlier today, immigration experts and advocates, who will be testifying will to tomorrow’s United States Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) hearing, gathered on a press call to  highlight the importance of the hearing the desperate need to make impactful change to an ever-expanding and inhumane system of detention.

Below are quotes from today’s speakers.

Ur Jaddou, Director, DHS Watch, said, “Detention of immigrants under the law is not criminal or punitive, yet many immigrants are held in actual jails or jail-like settings, and sometimes even worse than jails due to poor accountability structures and lack of oversight. The conditions in our immigration detention centers are quite disturbing and in great need of attention, especially in light of a massively increasing DHS budget and, more specifically, unprecedented numbers of people in immigration detention with poor accountability structures.  There are smart, effective, and cost-efficient alternatives, while at the same time – humane – that can very easily be expanded by Congress and DHS. We hope tomorrow’s U.S. Commission on Civil Rights meeting will help to shed light on this critical issue and bring about long-overdue change.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Analyst, American Immigration Council, said, “As families and children arrive at the border, many will spend days or weeks in freezing, overcrowded cells, forced to sleep on concrete floors and exposed to conditions worse than any jail. For years, individuals in CBP custody have also complained of the agency’s failure to provide adequate medical screening. Despite years of complaints, conditions in CBP custody have only gotten worse as more people arrive. In El Paso, hundreds of families were held in a dirty gravel lot underneath a bridge. Today, it is more vital than ever for CBP to address these long-standing problems. Rather than spend billions of dollars to build an unnecessary and ineffective wall, the government should focus instead on improving conditions for those it detains, especially children.”  

Katharina Obser, Senior Policy Advisor, Women’s Refugee Commission, said,  “It is a deliberate and political choice to jail families seeking asylum and to recklessly expand detention that undermines their rights. We urge the Department of Homeland Security to instead expand proven, appropriate, and cost-efficient alternatives to detention that have demonstrated nearly 100% compliance rates, such as the now defunct Family Case Management program. The government must turn to a better way to treat families seeking safety, a way that both welcomes them and ensures due process and justice.”

Jasmine Tyler, Advocacy Director, U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch, said, “Subpar medical care is a persistent problem in the US immigration detention system. People are dying as a result.” 

Charanya Krishnaswami, Advocacy Director for the Americas, Amnesty International USA, said, “The cruel and inhumane practice of immigration detention is expanding at an alarming pace, even though it carries devastating financial and human cost. Not only has the administration bypassed Congress in its reckless expansion of immigration detention, it’s also attempting to destroy vital limits on the jailing of asylum-seekers, families, and children.”