Immigration Detention: The Golden Goose for Private Prisons

An immigrant stands in a holding cell at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Florence, Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

For many months now, states all over the U.S. and the federal government have taken steps to “get tough” on undocumented immigrants of color without taking into account the fact that workers are crossing the border because U.S. employers are desperate for their labor and no visas exist to permit their entry.

Instead of spending their time tackling this reality, which if actually addressed might create a basis for the nondiscriminatory enforcement of immigration laws, legislators are instead continuing to introduce bills, such as Rep. Lamar Smith’s H.R. 1932.

These bills throw more money at detention centers and enforcement operations and ups the ante by making their imprisonment mandatory and indefinite, regardless of Supreme Court precedent finding that it’s unconstitutional.


Congress: Stop Locking Up Immigrants and Throwing Away the Key

Update 6/3: The Judiciary Committee did not get to HR2932 bill today, but it’s still scheduled to come up as early as 10 days from now.  Keep calling!

Texas Detention Facility

Texas Detention Facility, ©Amnesty International

As early as tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee may vote on H.R. 1932, a bill that will extend mandatory and indefinite detention of immigrants and strip them of their rights to due process.

Under the guise of a bill to protect U.S. citizens, the “Keep Our Communities Safe Act” is an attempt by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to make new populations of immigrants — including asylum seekers and long-time lawful permanent residents — subject to mandatory detention during removal proceedings. It also imposes punitive and indefinite detention if a person with a removal order is unable to secure a travel document — despite the fact that this is a political and diplomatic issue in which she or he has no control.

Congress needs to hear from you that you respect human rights, due process and the constitution, and you don’t want H.R. 1932 to become law. Pick up the phone now and urge members of the House Judiciary Committee to vote no on H.R. 1932.


New Immigration Legislation Would Divide and Devastate Families

In 1996, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), a draconian piece of legislation that stripped immigration judges of the ability to determine whether a person should be allowed to remain, and permitted the indefinite detention of immigrants whose governments refused to issue travel documents.

The Supreme Court struck indefinite detention down as an affront to liberty in Zadvydas v. Davis stating, “Freedom from imprisonment – from government custody, detention, or other forms of physical restraint – lies at the heart of the liberty [the due process] clause protects.”