CIVIC is Protecting the Right to Visit & Speak Out Against Detention

Today, CIVIC with the support of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the pro bono support of the law firm Sidley Austin LLP sent two letters requesting that ICE stop retaliating against visitors who publicly criticize the U.S. immigration detention system.  Specifically, we are asking ICE to clarify its nationwide policies to reflect that visitors cannot be denied access in retaliation for exercising their First Amendment rights, such as by exposing abuse in facilities, speaking out against the system, or participating in protests outside the facility.

Today, we are honored to have the support of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who is standing with us behind the Etowah Visitation Project (EVP).  EVP was recently informed by the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department that their visitation program has been terminated.

Here is the letter and press release that CIVIC and the Southern Poverty Law Center sent to the Etowah County Sheriff’s Department, DHS, and press today, demanding the reinstatement of EVP.

The Etowah County Sheriff’s Department has given us no information as to why this action was taken.  We believe it is in retaliation for a complaint CIVIC filed, with full support from EVP, regarding abuses that have been ongoing against people detained by ICE at the Etowah County Detention Center.  

Also, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the law firm Sidley Austin sent a separate letter and press release today outlining how CIVIC’s Co-Executive Director Christina Fialho has been denied attorney visits at the Adelanto Detention Center after attending peaceful vigils there.  

A huge thanks to the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Sidley Austin who believe visitors have the right to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful assembly without having to fear retaliation from ICE or its contractors. 

We ask all of you to hold the men detained at Etowah and people detained all over the country in your hearts, as any attack against us as advocates is only an extension of a much more serious attack and attempt to isolate people in detention.

Check out recent articles on this issue:

Think Progress, the Associated Press, Victor Valley Daily Press, Gadsden Times, and La Opinion, and Alabama Public Radio.  Stay tuned for upcoming articles and watch us on CNN en Español (upcoming).