100 Organizations to Senator Schumer: Immigration Overhaul Must Address Solitary Confinement and Other Human Rights Abuses in the Immigration Detention System

April 5, 2013

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More than 100 organizations have sent a letter to New York Senator Charles Schumer demanding that immigration reform legislation address the multiple human rights and due process abuses in the U.S. immigration detention system.

In the letter, immigrant and human rights advocates applaud Senator Schumer for speaking out against the use of solitary confinement last week after The New York Times reported that about 300 immigrants are held in solitary every day. But the groups, who represent a wide range of faith-based and academic institutions, human rights organizations, medical associations, and immigrant legal aid organizations, go on to explain that “solitary confinement is just one extreme example of the failures of our current immigration detention system.”

“The U.S. immigration system is experiencing a human rights crisis—including the use of solitary confinement in detention—and we have an opportunity to fix it in the new immigration law Congress is drafting right now,” said Royce Bernstein Murray, director of policy for Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center, whose joint investigation into solitary confinement with Physicians for Human Rights uncovered the data reported by The New York Times.

The letter outlines concrete steps Congress must take to improve accountability and oversight in the detention system and end due process violations that have resulted in egregious abuses like solitary confinement.

Recommendations include eliminating detention bed quotas and expanding the use of alternative forms of custody, ensuring all immigrants detained by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) receive bond hearings, expanding access to counsel and legal information in detention, and strengthening compliance oversight among the more than 100 jails and prisons DHS contracts to detain immigrants.

Senator Schumer told DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that if the department did address the overuse of solitary confinement in immigration detention, he would do so in legislation. Senator Schumer is a member of the “Gang of Eight” senators who are expected to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill this month.

Read the full letter and recommendations at http://www.immigrantjustice.org/senator-schumer-letter-solitary-confinement

The following organizations and professors signed the letter to Senator Schumer:
 
Advocates for Basic Legal Equality
African American Ministers in Action
African Services Committee
All of Us or None
Alliance San Diego
American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Massachusetts
American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa
American Friends Service Committee
American Gateways
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Americans for Immigrant Justice
Amnesty International USA
Asian American Justice Center, member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice
Asian Law Caucus
Brooklyn Defender Services
Casa de Esperanza
CASA de Maryland, Inc.
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Community Immigration Law Center
Cornell Law School Immigration Appellate
Law and Advocacy Clinic
Detention Watch Network
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Fahamu Refugee Programme
Family Equality Council
Farmworker Justice
Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project
Florida Justice Institute, Inc.
Franciscan Action Network
Gamaliel
Hofstra Law School Asylum Clinic, Maurice A.
Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
Human Rights Defense Center
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Immigrant and Refugee Rights Clinic, CUNY School of Law
Immigrant Defense Project
Immigrant Justice Clinic, University of Wisconsin Law School
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Immigrant Rights Clinic at Rutgers School of Law - Newark
Immigrant Rights Project, University of Tulsa College of Law
Immigration Clinic, University of Miami School of Law
Immigration Equality
Interfaith Coalition on Immigration
International Foundation for Gender Education
The John Marshall Law School Human Rights Clinic
Johnson & Brennan, PLLC
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Legal Aid Justice Center
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition of Chicago
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Maria Baldini-Potermin & Associates, P.C.
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Monmouth County Coalition for Immigrant Rights
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
National Day Laborer Organizing Network
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
National Guestworker Alliance
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
National Immigration Forum
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Lawyers Guild Queer Caucus
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NC Immigrant Rights Project
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice
New York Immigration Coalition
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic at Washington Square
Legal Services, Inc.
The Office of Immigration Issues,
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Out4Immigration
Physicians for Human Rights
Political Asylum Immigration Representation Project
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Public Law Center
Racial Justice Action Center
Reformed Church of Highland Park, NJ
Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network
San Diego Immigrant Youth Collective
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Survivors of Torture, International
Texas Civil Rights Project
Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition
Transgender Law Center
UC Davis King Hall Immigrant Detention Project
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United We Dream
We Belong Together: Women for Common SenseImmigration Reform
Women's Refugee Commission
Who Is My Neighbor? Inc.
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights at the University of Chicago

Individuals
F. Willis Caruso, Clinical Professor, Co-Executive Director of the Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Director of Pro Bono Program, The John Marshall Law School

Katherine Fennelly, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Susan R. Gzesh, Senior Lecturer & Executive Director, Human Rights Program, University of Chicago

Barbara Hines, Clinical Professor of Law, Immigration Clinic, University of Texas School of Law

Hiroko Kusuda, Assistant Clinic Professor, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice

Irene Scharf, Professor, UMass School of Law

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Clinical Professor & Director, Center for Immigrants' Rights, Pennsylvania State University

 

Download a PDF of the letter sent to Senator Schumer: