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Prison Industrial Complex


Today a Judge from the District Court for the District of Columbia order our government to stop keeping asylum-seeking families in jail as a deterrent to other potential migrants.  The lawsuit is only at the preliminary injunction stage at this point, but hopefully this is the beginning of the end of "family detention" in America.

Read the full opinion here:

Civil Action No. 15-11, Memorandum Opinion


My first post of the New Year.  This is just an intro for the link below to an opinion piece I co-authored with Kim Hunter, Dan Thomann, and Jennifer Smith, all of us volunteers for AILA's Artesia Legal Defense Team.  With the help of many volunteers, 14 families who were jailed at Artesia have been granted asylum.  Hundreds more women and children were released to their friends and families in the United States on bond to pursue their asylum claims outside of the prison system.  When the Artesia was closed, only 15 residents remained to move to the brand new family jail at Dilley Texas.  Unfortunately, the end of the Artesia family jail did not end family imprisonment.  Hundreds of mothers and children remain jailed in facilities near the towns of Karnes and Dilley in Texas.

read full article >>


In August, 2014 I spent a week in Artesia, New Mexico working on asylum cases for women and children imprisoned there by our government.  Sadly, hundreds are still imprisoned there and the U.S. Government is building even more family prisons.  These are my letters to the President and First Lady, mailed in September.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20500-0001

Dear Mr. President,

I have been a supporter of your presidency since the beginning.  My husband and I took our then-infant daughter to celebrate in Millennium Park in Chicago on Election Day in 2008, and I remember it as one of the happiest events I have ever been at in my life.  I have had an Obama bobblehead in my office for years.

No more. The president I supported ran on a platform of Hope.  He chanted "yes we can!" and "Sí, se puede!"  That president is gone.

I have spent the past weeks working with women, children, and infants that you have imprisoned, Mr. President, in what I can on...

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As the full Senate is debating a comprehensive bill reforming federal immigration laws, across the street today the House Committee on the Judiciary was busy with a bill, the SAFE Act, which would have states enforce our immigration laws while the federal government foots the bill.  

As I have written earlier, under current laws and regulations, state and local law enforcement are encouraged to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the "Secure Communities" program, but not all police forces choose to do so.  As California Attorney General Kamal Harris stated in an informational bulletin on Secure Communities: "Under principles of federalism, neither Congress nor the federal executive branch can require state officials to carry out federal programs at their own expense."

The SAFE act would deny Homeland Security funding to any state or municipality which does not adequately cooperate with ICE, and also deny such funding to any jurisdiction with a "statute, policy, ...
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Our current immigrations laws are full of harsh provisions which grant no leeway for mercy, and INA Sec. 236(c) (8 U.S.C. Sec. 1226(C)) may be the harshest of all. This provision requires that any alien whom the Department of Homeland Security is trying to deport must be imprisoned for the entire length of the proceedings with no bond, if the alien has a previous conviction for any listed crimes, including simple possession of marijuana or drugs.  As I have written previously,  the Immigration Reform Bill currently under consideration in the Senate would bring some sanity to this detention provision by allowing alternatives to imprisonment such as probation-like monitoring and by giving immigration judges the discretion to issue bond to aliens who do not pose a threat to public safety.

However, in the other wing of the Capitol, the House Appropriations Committee is trying to increase imprisonments.  Buried within budget for the Department of Homeland Security is a provision which inc...
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