Tag: immigrant detention

Organization of American States To Hold Hearing On Immigrant Detention Conditions In The U.S.

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Immigration detention centers have seen several detainee deaths. (Photo: Univision.com/AFP)

Immigration detention centers have seen several detainee deaths. (Photo: Univision.com/AFP)

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced this week it will hold a hearing on conditions at detention centers for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The hearings come after a series of detainee deaths prompted complaints from immigrant and civil rights organizations.

According to a story on Univision.com, the commission –which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS)– expects to publish a report on immigration detention centers later this year.

Santiago Cantón, the commission’s executive secretary, said at a press conference Tuesday that his panel has requested U.S. government authorization to visit some of the detention centers, but negotiations stalled over conditions for the visits.

The hearing will be held on Friday, March 20th, at OAS Washington headquarters, according to the official schedule for the IACHR’s 134th period of sessions.

The case of the detainees will be presented by the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law.

According to Cantón, the schools’ involvement and the hearing itself might help convince the U.S. government to allow the commission to visit the jails.

A recent Government Accounting Office report said the detention centers display bureaucratic deficiencies, medical personnel under staffing, slow response times to medical emergencies and poor food quality, according to a recent special report on Univision.com.

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Congress to pass a law that would increase supervision of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and improve the treatment of immigration detainees.

Ninety immigrants have died in detention since 2003, according to the ACLU.

Some of the more high-profile deaths –like those of Guido Newbrough in Virginia and Hiu Lui ‘Jason’ Ng in Rhode Island— have brought attention to the plight of detainees.

But others are shrouded in secrecy, ACLU attorney Monica Ramirez told Univision.com.

“We don’t know all the causes for those deaths,” she said. “The government doesn’t give out information and many times we learn about what happened through families’ accounts.”

Sheriffs "Market" Themselves To Get More Immigrant Detainees… And The Money That Follows

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Immigrants at an Arizona detention center. Photo: NPR/AP

The system for keeping undocumented immigrants in detention pending the resolution of their cases, and, for many of them, their deportation, has been under strong criticism recently after detainee deaths exposed the deplorable treatment inmates receive in some of those jails.

Turns out some of the jails also represent a windfall for the communities that host them.

According to a report by The Boston Globe, this yearthe federal government budgeted $1.7 billion nationwide” to cover the expenses of holding detainees. Thirty thousand of them are held on any given day, “almost four times as many as in 1995.”

The Globe’s Maria Sachetti wrote,

Bristol (County, Massachusetts) and other cash-strapped county jails are increasingly embracing the immigration business, capitalizing on the soaring number of foreign-born detainees and the millions of federal dollars a year paid to incarcerate them. Bristol County alone has raked in $33 million since 2001 (…)

“That money is a tremendous boost for us,” said Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr., whose jail houses 324 immigrants, up from 44 a decade ago, bringing in $15.6 million last year. “We aggressively try to market ourselves to get as many of those inmates into our doors as we can.”


Second Death At Virginia Immigration Detention Facility

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

“The reason for this letter is to let you know what is happening at this Immigration detention center,” a man identified as J.E.R. wrote in a letter to a central Virginia Spanish-language newspaper, referring to the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va. He then described how a German immigrant held at the facility died for lack of medical attention.

New York Times

Guido Newbrough's parents, Jack and Heidi - Photo: New York Times

“He was never given attention for the strong pain that afflicted him,” J.E.R. wrote. “One morning, he got up asking for assistance, he was knocking on the door seeking help and the jail guards threw him on the floor and dragged him to a corridor and then to a cell called ‘the hole,’ where the person is isolated from the rest and cannot use the phone.”

From ‘the hole,’ he asked for help and he died a day after Thanksgiving. (Jail officials) say he died of natural causes, but those of us who were there know that he died because of negligence.

The narration fits what the family of Guido R. Newbrough told The New York Times about the death of the German-born man, who spent 42 of his 48 years in the United States and apparently did not know he was not an American citizen.