Statement of Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center
News reports have indicated that members of the DREAM 9 have been placed in solitary confinement over the past week, and that two are held there currently. The DREAM 9 are a group of immigrant youth who presented themselves at a port of entry last month and were subsequently detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at Arizona's Eloy Detention Center. They are now among the more than 300 people DHS holds each day in solitary confinement cells in the immigration detention system. There is growing agreement by the medical and corrections establishment that solitary confinement is psychologically harmful, and the United Nations has called solitary confinement that extends beyond 14 days torture. While information continues to emerge about events occurring at Eloy, solitary confinement should never be used to retaliate against individuals who speak out for their rights inside detention. If the government feels it cannot safely maintain custody of individuals who are demanding their rights but who pose no threat to the community or flight risk, then the humane solution is to release them from detention.