Things That Matter

ICE Continues To Send Migrants To Private Prisons Where Cruelty Is The Norm

One of the services traditionally provided and operated by the State is security and correctional facilities. Traditional modern democracies are arranged in such a way that governments provide these services, and run them. However, neoliberal policies instituted during the 1980s, when people like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were in power, have translated into an increased privatization of these types of services. Basically, arresting and locking people up is a big and very profitable business. 

In the past few years ICE has captured hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants and people looking to enter the United States as refugees.

Many regions of the world are literally on fire. Gang warfare has spread like an epidemic in Central America, Mexico is still fighting a seemingly endless war against the drug cartels, African migrants are trying to get to America after Europe has proven to be hostile territory, the Middle East continues to suffer from endless conflict… and the list goes on and on.

The United States Customs and Border Patrol has been increasingly tough during the Trump administration, and the number of detainees of all ages and genders is increasing. Enter private correctional facilities, with which ICE has struck deals. The number of arrested migrants is huge.

According to The Washington Post: “The number of migrants taken into custody along the southern U.S. border soared to nearly 1 million during the government’s fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released Tuesday.”

Enter LaSalle Corrections, which has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons: detainees have been committing suicide in their facilities, including a Cuban man named Roylan Hernandez-Diaz.

ICE has to take all these people somewhere, and it has chosen a company that is infamous for its alleged malpractices: LaSalle Corrections, which operates out of Louisiana. This company was founded in 1997 by a former nursing home owner who had experience in running facilities where people are kept under strict disciplinary control.

During the Trump administration eight contracts have been drawn with the service provider. This past month Roylan Hernandez-Diaz,  a 43-year-old Cuban man killed himself in his cell after the immigration court told him he needed to provide more information relating to the political attacks he would face if he returned to his homeland. 

Hernandez-Diaz was angry at his legal situation, but also at the conditions in the jail where he had been kept.

The Washington Post reported on October 21: “Hernandez-Diaz, the second detainee to die in ICE custody this month, has a backstory that points to several new realities in the immigration system: An influx of Cubans, who are stuck in detention due to policy changes during the Obama administration. An increasing reliance by ICE on rural jails in Louisiana, where detainees charge they have been kept for months on end. And reports of deaths, suicide attempts, and hunger strikes from those detainees.”

It does sound like a very precarious situation, particularly given the fact that these people are not criminals in the traditional sense. 

Think Orange is the New Black but much worse and real life.

Credit: Orange Is The New Black / Netflix

Viewers of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black might get an idea of what the privatization of correctional facilities and the use of these by ICE means for actual human beings. Of course the show was a romanticized version of reality, and we are sure that the brick and mortar versions of these prisons are much worse. This is what happens when the lives or human beings are assigned a number in terms of profit, and when companies make a a buck out of suffering. 

Abusive guards, moldy food, LaSalle’s facilities seem to be hell on Earth.

As The Washington Post reports: “Nathalia Rocha Dickson, a Louisiana immigration lawyer, said conditions in these facilities are dire: Guards who don’t speak Spanish and who are largely untrained, rotating in and out. Tasteless food served at strict meal times, and a commissary that’s expensive or is unavailable entirely”. Yuselys, a Cuban woman detained in one of these places told VICE: ““All of the people who are detained there are suffering. They’re anxious, they’re depressed, they lay in bed all day and don’t want to get up for anything because of how depressed they are”. It sounds como un infierno en vida. 

Guards working for LaSalle have been found guilty of brutal practices.

Guards at one of the correctional facilities operated by LaSalle, a place called Richmond, were found guilty of pepper spraying inmates who were handcuffed and kneeling down. This happened when Richmond was holding civil offenders, not migrants. However, critics say that their practices have not changed much, and that there are other red flags such as the lack of medical support based of financial reasons. The philosophy seems to be: if it is gonna cost us, then you are on your own. 

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Biden Administration Says Number Of Kids In Border Custody Drops 84% Over Last Month

Things That Matter

Biden Administration Says Number Of Kids In Border Custody Drops 84% Over Last Month

As recently as last month more than 5,000 children languished in jail-like conditions inside U.S. Border Patrol facilities, often for longer than the 72-hour limit set by federal law. But, according to the Biden administration, that number has dropped by 84% as the agencies charged with migrant detention make significant progress.

Questions remain, however, about where these children are being sent to instead and why there remains a need for jail-like conditions in the first place.

The number of kids in jail-like Border Patrol facilities drops 84% compared to March.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children held in jail-like conditions by US Customs and Border Protection dropped nearly 84% in the span of a month, according to a White House official. As of last Wednesday, there were 954 children in CBP facilities, down from a peak of 5,767 on March 28, the official told CNN.

The average time that kids are in CBP custody is now 28 hours, compared to 133 hours on March 28, the official said, a nearly 80% reduction in time spent in Border Patrol detention.

In an interview with NBC News this week, Biden suggested that the situation with unaccompanied children is now under control, saying, “It’s way down now. We’ve now gotten control,” and touted “significant change in the circumstances for children to and at the border.”

In recent weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the care of migrant children, has opened up a string of temporary shelters to accommodate minors. That’s allowed for an increasing number of children being transferred out of border facilities to spaces equipped to care for them at a quicker pace.

The drop in children in custody is a welcome sign given the conditions they faced.

In some cases, children were alternating schedules to make space for one another in confined facilities and taking turns showering, often going days without one, while others hadn’t seen the sunlight in days.

While the administration works to address root causes of migration, it’s also had to contend with growing numbers of children in government custody. As of April 27, there were more than 22,276 children in HHS care, according to government data.

Biden on NBC again warned Central American parents against sending children to the US.”Do not send your kids, period. They’re most — they’re in jeopardy going– making that thousand-mile trek,” Biden said. “And so what we’re doing now is we’re going back to those countries in question where most of it’s coming from and saying, ‘Look, you can apply from your country. You don’t have to make this trek.”

The shift in strategy comes as a new poll shows Americans overwhelmingly support new immigration policy.

A vast majority of Americans approve of the idea of engaging countries abroad to address the causes of migration before it happens, according to a new nationwide poll released Thursday.

Pollster Civiqs found that 85 percent of survey respondents agreed that the United States needs to engage with other countries to address migration patterns.

On a partisan basis, 86 percent of Democrats and 87 percent of Republicans, as well as 81 percent of independents, agree with that approach, according to Civiqs, which conducted the poll for Immigration Hub, a progressive immigration advocacy group.

The poll found that 57 percent of Americans accept illegal immigration when the immigrants are fleeing violence in their home countries.

That support is lower for undocumented immigrants who come for other reasons; 46 percent agree with immigrants arriving illegally to escape poverty or hunger, while 36 percent do if the migrants are seeking to reunite with family members, and 31 percent do if the migrants are looking for jobs in the United States.

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Three Years After Traumatic Deportation, Alejandra Juarez Will Be Reunited With Her Family

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Three Years After Traumatic Deportation, Alejandra Juarez Will Be Reunited With Her Family

Scenes of her traumatic deportation made headlines around the world as she was forced to say goodbye to her husband (a U.S. veteran) and children back in 2018. Now, Alejandra Juarez is headed back to the United States just in time to celebrate Mother’s Day with her family.

Alejandra Juarez is back with her family three years after her very public and traumatic deportation to Mexico.

The wife of a U.S. Marine veteran, Alejandra Juarez’s deportation to Mexico made international headlines as she was forced to say goodbye to her husband and daughters at Orlando International Airport back in 2018. Many Americans found her story to be so powerful since she was married to a retired U.S. Marine, Cuauthemoc ‘Temo’ Juarez and each of her children are U.S. citizens. Not to mention Juarez had been living in the United States since she was 18 years old.

Since her deportation in 2018, Juarez has been living in Mexico but will be allowed to return to Florida – where her family is located – within the next couple of days. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted Juarez humanitarian parole

Juarez is the wife of a U.S. Marine veteran whose traumatic deportation scene at Orlando International Airport in 2018 made headlines worldwide. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted her a temporary reprieve known as humanitarian parole. Humanitarian parole allows entry to the country “due to an emergency” for someone who is otherwise not allowed to be in the country.

“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for,” Juarez told the Orlando Sentinel in an exclusive interview. “Once inside, I’m going to keep fighting and hopefully there’s a way I can find a permanent solution, but this is great!”

The emergency order allows Juarez to remain in the country until she finds a solution.

Florida Rep. Darren Soto (D) has been an advocate on behalf of the Juarez family and even joined Alejandra during her tearful goodbye to her family at the Orlando Airport.

According to report by the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Soto said that his staff had sent a letter to his contacts at the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and ICE officials, hoping they would reopen her case.

Around the same time, President Biden entered office and overturned the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy which had led to Alejandra’s deportation order. It’s also worth mentioning that Alejandra’s husband had voted for Donald Trump during the 2016 election without ever thinking that his wife could be targeted for deportation.

Congressman Soto has been a fighter for Alejandra while she’s been more than 700 miles away in Mexico and is proud to see justice for the Juarez family.

“When President Biden was elected, we knew there was a new hope of bringing her back,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “But it was Alejandra overall, who showed the tenacity and determination to stop at nothing to get back to her family.”

Juarez’s story further captured our hearts and minds as part of a Netflix series.

Despite being hundreds of miles apart, the Juarez family has not remained silent. In fact, Alejandra’s story was told as part of the Netflix documentary series Living Undocumented. Juarez, along with seven other immigrants, clips of interviews with Juarez and Estela, 10, who talks about President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on deporting those in the country without permission.

“He was going to deport criminals, but my mom is not a criminal,” Estela says. “She’s a military wife.”

And daughter Estela even took her mother’s case to the presidential campaign, when she read a powerful letter to then-President Donald Trump detailing her mother’s case and the agony her family has suffered. Thankfully, now, the family will soon be reunited just in time to celebrate Mother’s Day together.

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