With a month left of the Obama presidency, 153 immigrant rights organizations sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson this week in a final urgent request for the administration to take steps to protect the safety and health of immigrants detained in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
In the past year, two independent expert advisory committees commissioned by DHS and ICE, known as the Homeland Security Advisory Council's Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities Subcommittee and the ICE Advisory Committee on Family Residential Centers, have identified fundamental failures in the immigration detention system and recommended dramatic changes. The governmental advisory boards have made it clear that continuing the immigration detention status quo is not acceptable, and have called on the administration to discontinue its use of family detention, stop detaining immigrants in county jails except as brief staging sites, and move away from reliance on private prisons.
The letter from NIJC and numerous other immigrant rights advocates draw from these recommendations to propose five reforms the Obama administration can implement before January 20. The changes, we argue, are essential to ensure the safety and protection of all immigrants in detention - a rapidly growing population that includes children, families, and asylum seekers.