As you know, each year hundreds of thousands of immigrants, many seeking protection from persecution, torture, or impoverishment are detained in jails and prisons across the country that are notorious for deplorable, inhumane conditions, rife with extreme negligence, abuse, and even death. Private prison corporations have brought in billions from their ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) contracts and immigration detention has become a centerpiece of their financial model. Despite overwhelming evidence that detention is wholly unnecessary, and that immigrants successfully navigate their immigration cases in community, many local governments have become dependent on federal contracts for immigration detention to support their local budgets and are resisting detention closure.
Thanks in large part tothe space opened up by the uprisings for Black lives, more and more people and organizations are realizing that it is not enough to abolish ICE, or disentangle immigration from the criminal punishment system alone. SURJ is partnering with Detention Watch Network (DWN) to help build the power to end mass incarceration in our nation’s civil immigration system as part of ending the entire system of mass incarceration in our nation.
DWN has just issued Communities Not Cages – A Just Transition from Immigrant Detention Economies showing how the Biden administration has a unique opportunity to break this cycle and work towards an end to the unnecessary system of detention altogether. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people detained by ICE fell to lows not seen in over 20 years – just over 14,000 people were detained on April 1st. The Biden administration can and must continue to reduce the detained population and implement the recommendations put forward in this report in order to prevent the system from growing once the pandemic subsides.
We need to invest in education, create better paying jobs, and make healthcare more affordable for white, Black, and Brown people struggling to make ends meet. We need elected leaders who will reject the divide and conquer tactics of their opponents and create completely new ways for all of our communities to be safe and thrive.
Will you take action today?
- Tell your Congressperson to cut funding for ICE and CBP and defund hate, and sign this petition to Congress. Right now, Congress is figuring out how to fund the government, determining how much money different agencies, including ICE and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), will get for this year. Members of Congress can and should cut funding to ICE and CBP based on their records of abuse and consistent rejection of oversight and accountability, demonstrating time and again that they are beyond reform.
- Sign up today to take action through SURJ’s monthly action phone zaps supporting the work DWN and all of our partners to win racial and economic justice. You’ll join the welcoming community of SURJ members and receive training and support throughout the session.
In the same way that mass incarceration is a failed response to the social issues facing our society, our current policies criminalize immigrants without ever addressing the root causes of why people migrate to the U.S. We must come together to solve and address these issues instead of continuing to endlessly feed the detention industry.
PS To understand how what is currently happening in Palestine is a racial justice issue, register here for our webinar today, May 20th at 8pmET/5pmPT and learn from leaders from SURJ-Faith, AROC, FOSNA, and Catalyst Project. As white people in the US, many of our beliefs about Palestine have been shaped by racist and pro-United States propaganda in our media, telling us that Palestinians are terrorists or that Israel is defending democracy against the terrorism of the Middle East or even that supporting Palestine means you’re anti-Semitic — nothing could be further from the truth.