TRAC: US Immigration Takes First Place for Numbers Detained, Transferred

The number of individuals held in custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the just-ended FY 2009 is now estimated to have reached 369,483 detainees, more than twice what the total was in FY 1999. According to a recent agency report, this growth means that ICE is now operating the largest detention system in the country.

As the number of detainees has grown, the agency–at least until recently–has not sought to balance where it located new detention beds with where the individuals were apprehended. Instead ICE has adopted a free-wheeling transfer policy to deal with the resulting imbalances. Under this policy, ICE transports detainees from their point of initial ICE detention to many different locations–often over long distances and frequently to remote locations.

The broad finding that has emerged from an analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of millions of ICE records and other information is that–as a result of these ICE policy decisions–the number of detainees that ICE has transferred each year has grown much more rapidly than the already surging population held in custody by the agency. Here are the details:

Link to TRAC

Close Hutto: First Anniversary Vigil

Candlelight Vigil for Families in Detention
T. Don Hutto prison in Taylor, Texas
Sunday, December 16
pre-vigil walk, 2pm
speakers and vigil, 4-6pm

The T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas, is a for-profit prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America, through an Inter-Governmental Service Agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Williamson County. Since May 2006, immigrant families, about half of them children, have been jailed in the facility while they await asylum or immigration hearings. The prison has been criticized by human rights organizations worldwide as an inappropriate facility for children. An incident involving an “inappropriate sexual relationship” between a CCA staff member and a detainee, and one where an eight-year-old girl was left without her mother for four days have increased scrutiny of Hutto in recent months.

Hutto is not an immigration solution or a national security solution; it merely uses these pressing issues as an excuse for CCA, Williamson County, and countless politicians to enrich themselves on the misery of powerless people. At an occupancy rate of 400 (maximum capacity is 512), CCA pulls at least $7,000 per month per prisoner, or $28,000 for a family of four. The cost to shelter and feed the same family at the Austin Hilton for a month? $14,934, featuring real beds and an enclosed bath in place of prison bunks and a mid-cell commode.

According to studies conducted by the Vera Institute, more humane alternatives, which ICE detailed in a March 2007 memo, are up to fifty percent more cost-effective. A vast majority of immigrants attend their hearings when enrolled in alternative supervisory programs.

Please join immigrant rights advocates, residents of Williamson County, and members of many faith communities in a vigil for families detained at the Hutto prison. The main program will begin at 4:00 pm, with the candlelight vigil starting as the sun sets at 5:00 pm. A walk to the facility from downtown Taylor’s Heritage Park starting at 2:00 pm will precede the vigil.

Advocates will also be gathering toys, music players, and books to give to families detained at the prison. Toys must be in their original packaging and cannot be wrapped.

Schedule of Events

Pre-Vigil:
2:00pm- Walk From Heritage Park in Taylor (4th & Main) to T. Don Hutto Prison

3:00pm- Gather at T. Don Hutto (1001 Welch) for protest and music.

Vigil Events:
4:00pm – Program with speakers focusing on the immoral detention of families.

5:00pm- Candlelight Vigil and silent remembrance of families in detention.

Please contact Jose Orta at (512) 365-2143 or Bob Libal at (512) 971-0487 or blibal@grassrootsleadership.org for information regarding the vigil.

Isenberg Center Frees Chinese Woman from Immigrant Detention in Texas

The Isenberg Center for Immigration Equality (ICIE) arranged the freedom of Su, Li from ICE detention in El Paso, Texas. Su, Li is a foreign national from China that was detained on the way to work on February 2, 2012. The details of her detention are sketchy because Su, Li was picked up by ICE, turned over to Customs Border Patrol and then turned back over to ICE. Despite not having an attorney Su, Li was in proceeding and about to file a claim for political asylum without legal assistance. All this was taking place in El Paso despite the fact that she was picked up in Lubbock, Texas which is under the jurisdiction of Dallas, Texas Regional offices and courts.

“There is much to sort out and while we do that we plan to get Su, Li enrolled in school learning English and exposing her to a much more positive side of American Society” ICIE founder, Ralph Isenberg, said. “It was wrong to detain Su, Li in the first place and we want answers,” Isenberg concluded. ICIE has called for an official investigation into the way the El Paso Processing Center treated Su, Li and the unprofessional manner in which ICE communicated with the staff of ICIE. Chief of Staff, Arturo Rodriguez III said “it felt like the folks in El Paso thought their fax number was a national secret. After they refused to give us their fax number we merely called DHS in Washington and they gave it to us. This is what happens when people take their jobs too seriously and forget why they are there in the first place.”

ICIE founder, Ralph Isenberg, flew to El Paso to pick Su, Li up at the El Paso, Texas Processing Center exactly two months after she was detained in Lubbock, Texas. He flew in from Dallas, Texas and was back on his way to Dallas in less than an hour with Su, Li in hand. Su, Li will reside and be attended to by Isenberg and his family until ICIE investigates the circumstances behind Su, Li and resolves her immigration problems. Isenberg, whose wife and adopted daughter are from mainland China are making Su, Li feel that she is no longer alone and isolated in a strange land. “It will take Su, Li several weeks to deal with being detained for two months. Su, Li will have plenty of people to support her during this difficult period,” Isenberg said.

The Isenberg Center for Immigration Equality (ICIE) is a privately-funded initiative that deals with foreign nationals that are having immigration problems. Special attention is given to those whose problems involved family separation or issues related to the Constitution of the United States. ICIE has a full legal staff to prosecute fairness and justice to those harmed by the immigration system. A sister organization, known as Stop Dreaming & Live strives to make foreign nationals feel like they are part of the American society.