US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



The government can and should release all people from immigration detention

Apr 27, 2020

The United States has the largest detention system in the world. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a network of around 200 detention centers around the US, currently caging at least 35,000 people. The criminalization of immigration and its intensification under the Trump administration has led to more inhumane and more dangerous conditions for people in ICE custody. In the first three months of 2020 alone, 10 people died in ICE custody. Last year, we demanded an end to family separation and child detention at the US-Mexico border, and today we are joining Detention Watch Network and hundreds of grassroots organizations around the US calling for a mass release of people in ICE custody -- to #FreeThemAll

People in immigration detention are kept in cramped conditions with dozens or hundreds of other people -- prime conditions for the spread of COVID-19. Many people in detention do not have access to basic hygiene products like soap; most do not have access to Personal Protective Equipment like masks to stop the spread of the pandemic; and access to medical care in many facilities has been proven to be little to none. As of April 1, 29 ICE employees had tested positive for the coronavirus, and 1,117 employees were under quarantine. Journalists have found that cases of contracted employees at private detention facilities are not being reported. The number of people in immigration detention who have contracted coronavirus is intentionally underreported and unknown. We cannot let them die.

Detention Watch Network created a comprehensive toolkit for nationwide use with information on how to advocate locally for the release of people in ICE detention. Check out their toolkit and consider organizing to #FreeThemAll here, or join local efforts in your city/state.

To learn more about the campaign and why we need to release people from ICE now, read Detention Watch Network’s Messaging Guidance document.

Many of our members on the ground are campaigning to #FreeThemAll including Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Puente Human Rights Movement in Arizona, and American Friends Service Committee. Check out some of their local campaign efforts here:

Petition: Let Immigrants Detained in Georgia Quarantine at Home

Petition: Governor Ducey & Director Shinn: Don’t Let Our Loved One’s Die in Jail!

May 1 Event in AZ - United For Freedom Caravan #AzFreeThemAll

Video by GLAHR - Women at Irwin Detention Center

Video by Puente - Call from inside cages

Detention Watch Network Report - Courting Catastrophe: How ICE is Gambling with Immigrant Lives Amid a Global Pandemic