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Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director, National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)

This morning, The New York Times revealed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to jettison its standards for detained immigrants and shutter the office tasked with advancing reforms in an already dysfunctional and abusive detention system. These policy moves demonstrate anew the administration’s willingness to violate human rights in its rush to criminalize immigrants for political gain. Just yesterday the The Washington Post published a leaked internal DHS memo documenting the administration’s “progress” in establishing its deportation force, including plans to expand the already massive network of immigration jails to include more than 30 new facilities and reach capacity to jail more than 70,000 individuals each day.

The administration is poised not only to repeat the mistakes of past administrations in failing to enforce minimum health and safety requirements for individuals placed in civil detention at taxpayer expense, but to go further by discarding the minimum standards previously in place. Even under today’s minimal detention standards, deaths in immigration custody attributable to medical negligence are not uncommon and more than four out of every five immigrants is unable to access legal representation. The notion of lessening existing standards is appalling. It will lead to more deaths and abandon already elusive due process protections.
 
The week after next, our elected representatives will return to Washington, D.C. to debate the President’s supplemental funding request for $3 billion to expand a massive detention and deportation machine. It is now clearer than ever that these funds will serve to jeopardize the lives of men and women isolated in an increasingly dangerous detention and deportation system. NIJC calls on Congress to reject any budget that includes additional funds for the President’s anti-immigrant agenda.

Please join us! Call your senator today and urge him or her to reject any additional funds for immigration enforcement.