Georgia has 6 immigration detention facilities, and the immigration detention population is the fourth largest in the country. Georgia also is home to the largest immigration detention facility in the country, the Stewart Detention Center, run by the publically-traded Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) holding over 2,000 people each day.
Immigration detention is a civil form of confinement, and thus, detained migrants lack many of the safeguards of the criminal justice system. They have no right to a court-appointed attorney, a free phone call, or a speedy trial. While 46% of migrants are transferred away from family and friends, 84% lack attorneys. But in Georgia, this isolation is far worse; for example, only 6 percent of people detained at Stewart are represented by counsel because there is not a single immigration attorney in the town of Lumpkin and the facility is 150 miles from Atlanta. Many languish without visits from their family or the outside community because of the remote location of the facility and limited visitation booths. In many of the visitation booths, including ones reserved for legal visits, the phones used to communicate through the Plexiglas are faulty.
In March, CIVIC signed a letter written by the Southern Poverty Law Center to ICE, calling for CCA to 1) install and make available video teleconferencing (VTC) machines for detained immigrants to communicate with counsel; 2) designate duty officials to allow counsel to schedule calls with detained immigrants; 3) efficiently schedule meetings for immigrants in solitary confinement or administrative segregation; and 4) promptly replace faulty telephones.
CIVIC is working toward building a country without immigration detention, especially for-profit detention facilities such as the Stewart Detention Center. Until we achieve our goal, we will continue to visit and monitor detention facilities in Georgia and beyond. To join us, sign up for our mailing list, become a volunteer with our hotline in Georgia, and check out our affiliated visitation and hospitality program in Georgia.