For Immediate Release
Contact: Sheridan Aguirre | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202.793.2267
Today the House Committee on Appropriations met to discuss the DHS budget for fiscal year 2020, which includes funding for ICE and CBP. While the funding bill that passed committee includes cuts in funding to CBP, less money for detention of our communities and no money for a racist wall, committee members approved 29-21 increased funding to ICE and money for more CBP agents.
We call on Members of Congress to reject funding increases to ICE and CBP as well as vote down any supplemental requests by this Administration to detain and deport more people.
The abuses that the deportation force have inflicted are too numerous to ignore, and billions more is not the solution to treating immigrants humanely. Every person has a human right to life with dignity, second chances, and liberation — and that means defunding the deportation force, shutting down detention camps, and providing permanent protections for immigrants without harming other immigrants.
Here are 5 reasons — from news from this year alone – why Congress must defund ICE and CBP.
- They Left Children Locked In A Van for 39 Hours
Children between the ages of 5 to 12 years old thought they were going to be reunited with their parents. Instead, they found themselves waiting endlessly in vans for their turn to be processed at the Port Isabel detention camp for adults. According to NBC News:
It was 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 15, 2018.
Not until 39 hours later — after two nights in a van — did the last child step out of a van to be reunited. Most spent at least 23 hours in the vehicles.
NBC News has obtained emails sent between employees of BCFS Heath and Human Services, the government contractor and nonprofit organization responsible for transporting the children, who were frustrated by the lack of preparation by ICE, and senior leadership at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
At 10:30 p.m. local time Sunday, July 15, 2018, Andrew Carter, the BCFS regional director responsible for the children, e-mailed Kevin Dinnin, the company’s president and CEO, to alert him to the fact that the 37 children had been waiting for eight hours and not a single one had been processed for reunification.
- They Interfere With Medical Care in Clinics
Instead of receiving proper, holistic medical care, health care providers are being forced to work around deportation agents, and sometimes with them literally in the room. From the New York Times:
The problems range from shackling patients to beds and not permitting them to use restrooms to pressuring doctors to discharge patients quickly and certify that they can be held in crowded detention facilities that immigration officials themselves say are unsafe. Physicians say that needed follow-up care for long-term detainees is often neglected, and that they have been prevented from informing family members about the status of critically ill patients. Agency vehicles parked conspicuously near hospital entrances, health providers say, are also stoking fear and interfering with broader immigrant care.
Doctors typically do not know what rights they might have to challenge these practices. At Banner [University Medical Center Tucson] and several other hospital systems across the country, they have called on administrators to oppose and change security measures that they view as endangering health.
- They Abuse and Deny Treatment for Trans, Queer & HIV+ People
While communities across the country celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pride Month, LGBTQ people who are locked up inside detention camps brace themselves for the worst. Already, two trans women, Roxsana Hernandez and Johana Medina Leon, have died due to abuse, complications with HIV, and deportation agents’ refusal to provide them medication.
Now, women like Alejandra Barrera, who has been detained at the for-profit Cibola detention camp in New Mexico since late 2017, fear that they may be next. From the broadcast station KOB 4 in New Mexico:
“We just want her to have the same opportunity that almost every other person in her same situation would have had,” [Barrera’s attorney Rebekah] Wolf said.
Barrera was not granted parole while she awaited an answer to her asylum claim, according to Wolf.
Following the deaths of two transgender women who were detained in New Mexico, Wolf is concerned that Barrera is not getting the attention she needs.
“These prisons are just not set up to provide adequate medical care,” she said.
Earlier in April, Barrera’s attorney also reported that ICE falsified her records. From the Los Angeles Blade:
[Alejandra Barrera] followed all the byzantine procedures laid out for asylum seekers, only to be locked up in Cibola detention center, with ICE refusing her medical care or release while her asylum requests are on appeal, a standard procedure. Now, with four requests denied, Alejandra faces deportation back to certain death.
But the denials are all based on fabricated documents, Alejandra’s attorney Rebekah Wolf from Equal Justice Works tells the Los Angeles Blade, blatantly featuring a signature from an ICE official who was not in that position when the documented [sic] was dated, as well as other “falsified” information.
Alejandra is growing so weak from illness and so weary from the constant battle against cruelty, she’s close to giving up, Wolf says.
Wolf is desperately trying to catch the attention of a compassionate lawmaker who can stop the deportation process so Alejandra can get a fair, unbiased asylum hearing and review her evidence that “ICE falsified parole documents in her case.”
- They Encourage “Happy Hunting” Via Unrestricted Bus Searches
Border Patrol boarding a Greyhound bus and asking for passengers’ papers is becoming an all too familiar American experience.
Under Trump’s administration, Border Patrol has been given the greenlight to conduct unrestricted inspections of buses within a hundred miles of the border, an area that covers half of the U.S. population. From NBC News:
Agents in at least one border sector greeted the 2017 change eagerly, according to emails obtained by the ACLU of Maine.
“This is an excellent opportunity, the likes of which we have not seen in a decade,” a Border Patrol official wrote to a group of supervisors in the Houlton sector, which covers the state of Maine.
“Remain professional, expect to be videoed, and do not get baited into an argument that will get edited to make us look like fools. Don’t confuse this with taking s—,” instructed the official, whose name was redacted.
The official signed off: “Happy hunting, stay safe, and have fun!”
In turn, people of color, no matter if they’re U.S. citizens or not, have been targets of racial profiling.
Mohanad Elshieky was 97 miles from the border when he said he was ordered off a bus in Spokane on a cold day in January. Elshieky, who came to the U.S. from Libya as a student but stayed after receiving death threats back home, had recently been granted asylum.
He said he had two forms of identification, which he showed to the Border Patrol agents. They were skeptical about the documentation, Elshieky recalled, telling him, “Illegals fake these all the time.” The agents questioned him for nearly 20 minutes before letting him get back on the bus.
- They Run Inhumane Detention Camps
This month, DHS Inspector General released a report which found horrid conditions inside four detention camps. From CNN:
The kitchen at one facility was in such poor shape — with open packages of raw chicken leaking blood over refrigeration units — that the kitchen manager was replaced while the IG [Inspector General] inspection was ongoing.
The IG observed unsanitary conditions in the bathrooms at the Adelanto and Essex facilities during their surprise visit. “[W]e observed detainee bathrooms that were in poor condition, including mold and peeling paint on walls, floors, and showers, and unusable toilets,” the report reads.
Other issues raised include spoiled food, lack of provisions, like lotion, that is required for detainees, and strip searches with no documented justification. The report notes that ICE detainees “are held in civil, not criminal, custody, which is not supposed to be punitive.”
All four facilities had “food service issues.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg. So long as Congress refuses to restrict the budget for the deportation force, more and more people will remain locked up in detention camps.
The solution in this moment in history is humanity. Congress must ensure that those at the border have a fair shot at the asylum process, that communities targeted by Trump are provided a pathway to citizenship, and, above all, that ICE and CBP are defunded.
No more deaths, no more detention camps, no more abuse. Defund now!
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members and 48 affiliate organizations across 26 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.