| "Jordana was brought to the U.S. when she was twelve years old. At the age of 23 she was arrested by ICE officials after they came to her home looking for her brother. Jordana had no criminal history and no deportation order. ICE alleged that she had entered the U.S. on the visa waiver program and was thus not entitled to a removal hearing before an immigration judge. When ICE initially tried to remove Jordana, she refused to board the plane and requested a hearing before a judge. As a result, ICE placed her in segregation at the Elizabeth Detention Center for three weeks, and then transferred her for four months to Hudson County.
Despite being eligible for the DREAM Act and meeting the requirements for prosecutorial discretion under the recent memo from ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton, ICE refused all initial requests to have Jordana released. Jordana was ultimately moved to Delaney Hall and released after interventions by U.S. Senators Menendez, Gillibrand, and Durbin. She spent nine months total in ICE detention. A month after her release, ICE admitted in Court filings that it erred in stating that she had entered on the visa waiver program and that Jordana had been entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge all along."
The immigration detention system in the United States has grown drastically over the last 15 years and the appalling conditions in the detention centers that house immigrants have reached a tipping point.
President Obama made promises to reform this inhumane system in 2009, and while there were some efforts to improve the system, the reality on the ground has not changed. Now, conditions at 10 of the worst jails and prisons that house immigrants have gotten so bad, the only option is to begin shutting them down.
Tomorrow, Thursday November 15th, national and local leaders from the Detention Watch Network (http://detentionwatchnetwork.org/) will release a series of reports titled, "Expose and Close," to reveal the widespread pattern of mistreatment at ten of the worst immigrant prisons across the country. Speakers will call on President Obama to close these detention centers and issue a list of reforms to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of immigrants held in detention.
Among the report's findings:
- Roberto Medina-Martinez, a 39-year-old immigrant, died at Stewart in March 2009 of a treatable heart infection. An investigation conducted following his death revealed that the nursing staff failed to refer Mr. Medina for timely medical treatment and the facility physician failed to follow internal oversight procedures.
- A man with serious emotional health problems in the Houston Processing Center in Texas was placed in solitary confinement for months at a time, a practice which the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has deemed torture.
- At Baker, Etowah and Pinal County Detention Centers and Jails, families are only able to visit with their loved ones in detention through video monitors after having driven hundreds of miles to see them.
- At the Pinal County Jail complaints regarding sanitation include receiving food on dirty trays, worms found in food, bugs and worms found in the faucets, receiving dirty laundry, and being overcrowded with ten other men in one cell and only one toilet.
In conjunction with Thursday's national launch, Detention Watch Network members around the country will be releasing their local reports in a coordinated effort to call for closure of these ten jails and prisons across the nation that exemplify some of the most appalling conditions of immigrant detention. These facilities include Etowah County Detention Center (AL), Pinal County Jail (AZ), Houston Processing Center (TX), Polk County Detention Facility (TX), Stewart Detention Center (GA), Irwin County Jail (GA), Hudson County Jail (NJ), Theo Lacy Detention Center (CA), Tri-County Detention Center (IL), and Baker County Jail (FL).
Please stay tuned.