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ICE Detention: Government-sponsored, Hate-filled Disruption of Immigrants’ and their Families’ Lives: What Can We Do?

Article and Statement by: Moya Atkinson

Below we are highlighting the cruel and inhuman treatment of immigrants and their children in the U.S. and ways in which social workers can help.

Let us not forget, however, that what is awaiting the immigrants and their children is what has already awaited millions of incarcerated people in the U.S., especially those of color. Data show 1 in 17 white males, 1 in 6 Latinos and 1 in 3 African  Americans  as the “Lifetime Likelihood of Imprisonment of U.S. residents Born in 2001.  https://sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Trends-in-US-Corrections.pdf.  SWASC exists to end the torture of solitary confinement.

NASW Toolkit

 NASW has responded with a toolkit: Child Immigrant Crisis Toolkit. This toolkit includes ways you can make a difference today! It includes information on legislation to help migrants; a form letter that you can send to your state governor and state legislators to urge them to take action; NASW Social Justice Briefs, statements and research regarding immigration; and links to NASW partner organizations. 

The data below are provided by the Prison Policy Initiative: Turning to the people who are locked up criminally and civilly for immigration-related reasons, we find that 13,000 people are in federal prisons for criminal convictions of immigration offenses, and 10,600 more are held pretrial by U.S. Marshals. The vast majority of people incarcerated for criminal immigration offenses are accused of illegal entry or illegal re-entry — in other words, for no more serious offense than crossing the border without permission.
Another 49,000 people are civilly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not for any crime, but simply for their undocumented immigrant status. ICE detainees are physically confined in federally-run or privately-run immigration detention facilities, or in local jails under contract with ICE. An additional 11,800 unaccompanied children are held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), awaiting placement with parents, family members, or friends. While these children are not held for any criminal or delinquent offense, most are held in shelters or even juvenile placement facilities under detention-like conditions.

Turning to the people who are locked up criminally and civilly for immigration-related reasons, we find that 13,000 people are in federal prisons for criminal convictions of immigration offenses, and 10,600 more are held pretrial by U.S. Marshals. The vast majority of people incarcerated for criminal immigration offenses are accused of illegal entry or illegal re-entry — in other words, for no more serious offense than crossing the border without permission.
Another 49,000 people are civilly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) not for any crime, but simply for their undocumented immigrant status. ICE detainees are physically confined in federally-run or privately-run immigration detention facilities, or in local jails under contract with ICE. An additional 11,800 unaccompanied children are held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), awaiting placement with parents, family members, or friends. While these children are not held for any criminal or delinquent offense, most are held in shelters or even juvenile placement facilities under detention-like conditions.

To read further about this data from the Prison Policy Initiative, click here.

Recent Articles and Comments

How to Volunteer to Help Immigrant Children Separated from Family Updated in 2019.

Trump Administration Moves Forward with Plans to Jail Children Indefinitely. Published August 29.

ICE’s Use of Solitary Confinement Has Gotten Worse. Published May 29.

The Capricious Use of Solitary Confinement Against Detained Immigrants. FOIA documents and a whistle-blower uncover how the Obama and Trump administrations used solitary in ways that critics say are arbitrary, cruel, and in violation of federal rules. Published September 6.

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