The right to be treated with dignity and the rights to family unity, freedom and wellness should not be contingent on one’s place of birth. Yet for too long, immigrants living in American communities have suffered under a cloud of fear of detention or deportation based on arbitrary raids and racial profiling.
The federal government spends billions of dollars each year on immigration enforcement rooted in racial bias that spreads fear and uncertainty in immigrant communities. For centuries, laws around immigration have been created to keep specific populations out of the United States or to profit off of their incarceration. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to laws that criminalize crossing or re-crossing the border, to a 1996 law that further punishes over-policed immigrant communities, the list of tactics to incarcerate and deport immigrants has continued to grow.
The Trump administration exacerbated the harms of this system by unleashing hundreds of policies drawn from the playbooks of anti-immigrant groups designated as “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center which terrorize communities, fracture families, and can leave entire families and communities struggling to make ends meet in their wake.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demand more money every year to fund increased militarization at the border and in U.S. cities, more detention beds, and escalating enforcement operations in the interior. In addition, these agencies have raided the accounts of agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Coast Guard. As a result, U.S. taxpayers are paying billions of dollars to lock up immigrants and asylum seekers in a detention system known for conditions so punishing that immigrants and asylum seekers are engaging in hunger strikes, and suicide attempts are increasingly common. Much of this money goes to enrich for-profit prison corporations.
Every time ICE and CBP have demanded money, Congress has handed it over. Even after it has come to light that these agencies are taking money from other vital government programs, Congress has failed to place limits on their ability to continue siphoning money.
As a member of the Defund Hate campaign, NIJC calls on Congress to stop funding the hateful policies enacted by ICE and CBP, and instead invest that money into communities, using tax dollars to provide better schools, green infrastructure, and robust health and nutrition programs. We recognize that there is a better way to welcome people into the country, including community-based programs with proven positive outcomes.
Watch NIJC client Johannes Favi speak to Congress about his experience in ICE detention during the COVID-19 pandemic: