Statement in Response to Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office

“The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office has pledged to take seriously the allegations made by a group of women detained at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.

But calling these reports “misleading” is the exact opposite of taking them seriously. What is happening at West County is not an anomaly. It is the status quo across immigration detention facilities in the U.S.

Instead of trying to discredit the women’s reports of harsh living conditions, the Sheriff’s Office should focus its energy on rectifying the issue immediately and launching a fully independent investigation.”

— Christina Mansfield, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, CIVIC 

Lawyers File Litigation Hold to Preserve Sexual Assault Records of People in Immigration Detention

LOS ANGELES – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) are putting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on notice over ICE’s plan to destroy the records of immigrants in detention, including deaths in custody, solitary confinement and sexual assault.
 
In late August, ICE petitioned the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for permission to start routinely destroying 11 kinds of records on several proposed timelines.  CIVIC and CREEC sent ICE a litigation hold letter which, according to Tim Fox, an attorney and the Co-Executive Director of CREEC, “places ICE on notice that litigation may be commenced concerning the topics covered in the letter, and thus ICE has a duty to preserve related documents, and this is true even if NARA approves ICE’s petition.”
 
“These records are vital to anticipated litigation. They are essential to obtaining justice for those individuals who’ve needlessly suffered at the hands of government officials,” says Christina Fialho, an attorney and the Co-Founder/Executive Director of CIVIC.
 
Earlier this year, CIVIC filed a civil rights complaint after uncovering, through a Freedom of Information Act request, widespread sexual abuse, assault and harassment in U.S. immigration detention facilities. CIVIC uncovered that between January 2010 and July 2016, Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General received over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse against DHS’s component agencies.  But the Inspector General investigated less than 1 percent of these cases.
 
For example, Rosanna Santos was sexually harassed by a male guard at the York County Jail in Pennsylvania while she was in immigration detention.  She was one of the named complainants in CIVIC’s federal civil rights complaint earlier this year. Rosanna says, I spoke out about the sexual harassment so that something would be done for all those other women I knew who were being silenced. Destroying the evidence is not going to erase our traumatic memories or help bring those who are responsible for sexual violence to justice.
 
The federal government has shown no interest in a proper and full investigation. And now, it wants to destroy sexual abuse and assault records. That won’t happen on our watch.
 
“We won’t let ICE willfully destroy evidence of systematic wrongdoing,” said Fialho. “ICE is now on notice that if they try to destroy these records, they will be subject to legal consequences.”
 
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CIVIC is a national nonprofit headquartered in San Francisco, California, with a mission to abolish the U.S. immigration detention system.  In addition to providing independent oversight of the U.S. immigration detention system, CIVIC also challenges immigration detention practices.  Learn more atwww.endisolation.org.
 
CREEC is a non-profit located in Denver, Colorado, with a nationwide scope whose mission includes investigating and filing impact and class-action lawsuits on a broad array of civil rights issues. Learn more at www.creeclaw.org.
 

Trump’s Immigration Efforts Targeting Children Are Inhumane

 
The question we all need to be asking ourselves is, what does it say about our country when we lock up children in immigrant prisons? It is not only inhumane, but also runs counter to our values and ideals. 
 
There are already very few laws or regulations that protect people in immigration detention, and minors are a vulnerable population. A legal agreement the administration is targeting is known as the Flores Settlement, which is one of the only requirements that provides some regulation over child immigration detention.  
 
We will not allow one of the few legal protections child migrants have to be scrapped at the whim of one man.”
 
-Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

OIG’s Report On DHS’s Immigration Enforcement & Administration

“The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General released a report detailing shortcomings in immigration enforcement and administration within DHS’s component agencies, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In its report, OIG recommended that the agency develop a unified approach for strategy and oversight through the creation of a department-level group.

If DHS is committed to this approach, we believe one area where it could improve upon is by creating a uniform system for filing complaints against component agencies, for example, which would be beneficial to those directly impacted by the system, such as asylum seekers, legal permanent residents and others in their custody.

We also believe the department-level group should be independent of the DHS and should be a congressionally-appointed committee.”

-Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)

Trump Calls For End To Diversity Visa Lottery Program

Following the tragic attack in New York City, President Donald Trump announced that he wants to end the Diversity Visa Lottery Program saying, “We’re going to quickly as possible get rid of chain migration and move to a merit-based system.”

His response to the attack is not only misguided and based on fear, but it is also exploitative, seeking to further his administration’s attempts to curtail immigration. When the president uses phrases like “chain migration,” he essentially wants to make it more difficult for families to immigrate and stay together. Language matters.

We fear that ending the Diversity Visa Lottery Program may signal the beginning of other policies aimed to keep people apart.

-Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder, CIVIC

Report: Trump Plans Massive Expansion of Immigration Detention

We at CIVIC, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, strongly condemn the Trump administration’s plans to expand immigration detention. As reported by USA Today, ICE has put out requests to identify privately-run jail sites in Chicago, Detroit, St. Paul, Salt Lake City and southern Texas.

The move will only serve to embolden Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in targeting vulnerable communities and line the pockets of profit-driven companies like GEO Group and CCA, at the expense of the lives of thousands of individuals and their families. The proposed expansion is also a waste of taxpayer money.

We successfully fought to stop the expansion of for-profit immigrant prisons in California. Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the” Dignity Not Detention” bill (also known as SB29) into law, following the tireless work of immigrant rights organizations and advocates, including CIVIC, and through the help of people in detention, who bravely shared their stories with us.

California’s measure is a step in the right direction toward ending our inhumane detention system and one that can serve as a model for other states in their fight to thwart the Trump administration’s unconscionable actions.

In fact, we worked with Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from Washington to introduce a first-of-its-kind federal budget amendment to stop immigration detention expansion nationwide. We hope to work with more legislators like her to one day abolish the U.S. immigration detention system.

– Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder, CIVIC

MUSIC FESTIVAL COMING TO ADELANTO: Presented by CIVIC

adelanto2#SCHOOLSNOTPRISONS ARTS AND MUSIC FESTIVAL COMING TO ADELANTO, FEATURING PERFORMANCES BY MIGUEL AND EMCEED BY CRISTELA ALONZO

The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour and community partners will call for the closure of cruel and unjust immigrant prisons, beginning with the for-profit prison in Adelanto which is the largest immigrant prison in California 

ADELANTO, CA (October 11, 2017) – Grammy-winning R&B artist Miguel will headline Friday’s free community Schools Not Prisons concert joined by Los Rakas, Ceci Bastida and Buyepongo to advocate for the closure of all immigrant prisons. The event will be emceed by comedienne Cristela Alonzo. The concert comes just two weeks after Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill by Sen. Ricardo Lara, which will limit the growth of immigrant prisons and takes a strong stand against profiteering by private prison interests.   

The #SchoolsNotPrisons Adelanto concert will bring artists, advocates, and community members together for a historical event, creating a unique platform to advocate for the closure of immigrant prisons and shine a light on the many ways for-profit immigrant prisons harm California communities. Centered at the intersection of art and activism, #SchoolsNotPrisons Adelanto will spark meaningful dialogue around the practice of unjust immigrant incarceration and the cruel conditions of immigrant prisons – generally misrepresented as immigrant detention centers. 

“Nearly 40,000 immigrants are incarcerated each day in facilities across the United States, with over 70 percent of them held in prisons run by corporations profiting off their misery,” said Christina Fialho, Co-Executive Director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a national nonprofit that visits and monitors immigrant prisons. “It’s time we close these unnecessary and abusive prisons, and instead use community-based alternatives to ensure immigrants are afforded due process in court.”

The upcoming #SchoolsNotPrisons tour stop is presented by CIVIC, the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective, the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), and produced by Revolve Impact, which has organized the statewide tour since the summer of 2016. The tour promotes a vision of community safety focused on prevention rather than incarceration, and supports local advocacy campaigns that call for more effective, community-based alternatives rather than severe forms of punishment, particularly for vulnerable populations.

“Having grown up on the Mexican side of the border, I’ve always been aware of how much people risk to get to the other side,” said popular Latin singer-songwriter Ceci Bastida, “I’m honored to play for people who are so brave, who have left their home and everything they know to pursue a different life here. We are excited to share our music with the community of Adelanto, stand up for the rights of everyone who is incarcerated at the GEO immigrant prison, and shine a light on this abusive system.”

About 1,600 people are incarcerated in Adelanto’s immigrant prison, which is owned and run by the for-profit prison company GEO Group.

“Conditions inside the immigrant prison in Adelanto are inhumane and abusive, and incarcerated immigrants have launched multiple hunger strikes to protest unclean water and food, denial of medical care, and excessive bail requirements” said Javier Hernandez of ICIJ. “Meanwhile, the CEO of The GEO Group, earns a salary of five million dollars a year, yet GEO pays incarcerated immigrants just a dollar a day to work inside as janitors or cooks.”

The #SchoolsNotPrisons tour stop in Adelanto will take place at the Adelanto Stadium, with gates opening at 5:30pm and the concert starting at 6pm. Guest speakers will include those who’ve been incarcerated inside the Adelanto immigrant prison.

Admission to the concert is free, but people are encouraged to register in advance through this Eventbrite link because the event is expected to reach capacity. The concert is an all-ages peaceful community event, and will be a tobacco-free, alcohol and drug-free zone. 

The #SchoolsNotPrisons is funded by The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation. The tour stop is presented by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), the Inland Empire-Immigrant Youth Collective, and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), and produced by Revolve Impact. The tour is in partnership with more than 50 organizations from across California, including: A New Way of Life, ACLU-CA, Advancement Project, American Friends Services Committee, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus (ICE out of CA), Black Alliance for Just Immigration, BLU Educational Foundation, Brave New Films, Centro Del Inmigrante, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), CultureStrike, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin Valley, Homie UP, Inland Congregations United for Change, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, MILPA, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Movement Generation, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI), Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), PICO CA, Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, Presente.org, Project Kinship, Resilience Orange County, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, Sanctuary Task Force of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Sankofa, Self Help Graphics & Art, Sol Collective, The Place4Grace, Training Occupational Development Education Communities (TODEC) Legal Center, Trans Latin@ Coalition, UFCS Local 770, UnidosUS, Warehouse Workers Resource Center (WWRC), Young Women’s Freedom Center, Youth Action Project, Youth Justice Coalition, and Youth Law Center.

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About CIVIC

CIVIC is a national nonprofit devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration prison, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push systemic change. CIVIC has been visiting and monitoring the Adelanto Detention Facility since 2012. For more information, visit www.endisolation.org and www.endisolation.org/Adelanto

About The California Endowment

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. Headquartered in downtown Los Angeles, The Endowment has regional offices in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, and San Diego, with program staff working throughout the state. For more information, visit www.calendow.org.

About The California Wellness Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation is celebrating 25 years as a private, independent foundation with a mission to advance wellness for all Californians by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. Since its founding in 1992, Cal Wellness has awarded more than $987 million in charitable contributions, which include matching gifts and 8750 grants. For more information, visit www.calwellness.org.

About Revolve Impact

Revolve Impact is an award-winning social action media and creative company that utilizes radical imagination, art and culture to transform global power, politics and people. Founded in 2014, Revolve Impact provides marketing, campaign management, event production, as well as policy advisement and strategic media expertise to a wide range of influential artists, nonprofit and government entities, corporate communities, and philanthropic foundations. For more information, visit www.revolveimpact.com

California Signs Into Law Dignity Not Detention Act to Bring Needed Accountability to Private Immigration Prisons

DND
Today, Governor Brown signed SB 29, the Dignity Not Detention Act, into law, effectively freezing the growth of private, for-profit immigration detention facilities in the state of California. The bill also prohibits cities or counties from entering into new, or modifying existing, contracts with private prison companies for the purposes of expanding immigration detention, and gives California community members the chance to weigh in on the construction of any new facilities in their neighborhoods.

Nearly 4,000 immigrants are detained in facilities across California on any given day, with over 70 percent of them housed in for-profit facilities. SB 29 was authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D–Bell Gardens) and co-sponsored by Assembly Member Gipson, Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).  

“An economy based upon the confinement of people for profit is immoral, and now in the state of California, its expansion is illegal. Governor Brown, Senator Ricardo Lara, the California Legislature, and human rights advocates across the state have come together to pass one of the most important pieces of pro-immigrant legislation in recent history. There is much more work to be done, but this bill is a step forward in the fight to end our costly, inhumane, and unaccountable detention system,” said Christina Fialho, an attorney and the co-founder/executive director of CIVIC.

“When we detain individuals in facilities that seek profit, with no legal or moral standard of care, we are putting people in danger and encouraging inhumane behavior,” said Grisel Ruiz, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “With the Dignity Not Detention Act, we will check the growth of private immigration detention where prison corporations quite literally profit from human suffering, as we continue our work to end the unnecessary practice of jailing immigrants altogether.”

Reports of human rights abuses within these facilities are rampant, from physical and sexual abuse and overuse of solitary confinement to medical neglect and preventable deaths. Immigrants involved in the campaign to end private, for-profit detention facilities spoke out against the conditions of detention in California by saying they were unjustly “operating outside of the law,” with experiences of being “abused and tortured,” and feeling that their “religious freedoms were often violated,” and “helpless.”

“This legislation, coupled with AB 103 a new law passed in June, which checks the expansion of public facilities and directs our Attorney General to provide state oversight of all facilities, tells the federal government loud and clear that California will not be a future partner in the expansion of this broken and abuse immigration detention system,”continued Ruiz. “We thank Governor Brown, Senator Lara, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra for listening to immigrants, residents, local law enforcement, attorneys and advocates such as California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC), and Human Rights Watch, and for their leadership on this issue.”

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center and CIVIC will work in partnership with formerly and currently detained immigrants and the state’s leadership to ensure full implementation of this bill. The ILRC and CIVIC will continue to fight for additional reforms to immigration detention, including the codification of standards of care across all detention facilities, the creation of extra protections for LGBTQ-identified immigrants in detention, increased visitation access to legal counsel and family members, the increased adoption of community-based alternatives to detention, and ultimately an end to all immigration detention.

For interviews with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a key co-sponsor and supporter of the bill, please contact Jareyah Bradley at jareyah@balestramedia.com or908.242.4822.

For interviews with CIVIC, please contact Christina Fialho atCFialho@endisolation.org or 510-612-3570.

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The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policymakers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities. www.ilrc.org

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is a California-based national nonprofit devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push wide-scale systemic change. www.endisolation.org

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal Just Introduced a Bill to Stop Immigration Detention Expansion!

 

CIVIC Volunteers protest outside of the Adelanto Detention Facility, as part of CIVIC's Defund Detention Campaign!

CIVIC Volunteers protest outside of the Adelanto Detention Facility, as part of CIVIC’s Defund Detention Campaign!

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) just introduced a federal budget amendment to stop immigration detention expansion nationwide.  This amendment would prevent the federal government from using any portion of taxpayer dollars to expand the immigration detention regime.  

“We are excited to see Congressional democrats moving toward defunding immigration detention.  This amendment is the first of its kind at the federal level, and we urge Congress to allow the Amendment to proceed to the House floor,” said Christina Fialho, co-founder/executive director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC).

Jayapal’s amendment takes its cue from a law adopted by California earlier this year through the state budget.  Earlier this year, CIVIC and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center worked with the California legislature to pass the first law in the country to put a moratorium on immigration detention expansion.  

CIVIC consulted on Congresswoman Jayapal’s federal budget amendment, and we are grateful to her for introducing this short and powerful amendment.