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Bed Quotes Fuels Inhumane and Unnecessary Immigrant Detention

Posted on 25. Apr, 2015 by .


The following article, written by Roque Planas is from the Huffington Post:

ELOY, AZ - JULY 30: A cactus and sign mark the entrance to the Eloy Detention Facility for illegal immigrants on July 30, 2010 in Eloy, Arizona. Most immigrants at the center, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), are awaiting deportation or removal and return to their home countries, while some are interned at the facility while their immigration cases are being reviewed. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in Arizona holds almost 3,000 immigrants statewide, all at the detention facilities in  Eloy and nearby Florence. Arizona, which deports and returns more illegal immigrants than any other state, is currently appealing a judge's ruling suspending controversial provisions of Arizona's immigration enforcement law SB 1070.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The private prison industry’s growing role in immigrant detention is due in part to Congress’ requiring the federal government to maintain some 34,000 detention beds, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report, drafted by Grassroots Leadership, a nonprofit based in Austin, Texas, calls on Congress to eliminate the immigrant detention quota from its 2016 appropriations request.

The detention bed mandate was first inserted into the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010. Today, private companies control about 62 percent of the immigrant detention beds used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the report. That’s up from 49 percent in 2009. The rest of the beds are operated by the federal government. Of the 10 largest immigrant detention centers in the country, nine are operated by private companies.

“We simply detain too many people, and the federal mandate certainly drives a lot of that,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Wednesday on a call with reporters organized by Grassroots Leadership. “Frankly, I think if you eliminate the bed mandate, that’s the first step toward eliminating privatization, because that’s a huge thing that’s driving their profits.”

The two largest private prison companies involved in detention — Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group — have lobbied Congress in order to push up the number of required immigrant detention beds, according to the study. CCA and the GEO Group together took in nearly half a billion dollars from immigrant detention services in 2014 alone, according to Grassroots.

CCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the GEO Group, denied that the company plays a role in promoting immigrant detention.

“As a matter of long-standing policy, GEO’s governmental advocacy focuses on promoting the benefits of public-private partnerships and does not encompass immigration policies, which are set exclusively by the federal government,” Paez told The Huffington Post in an email.

But the Grassroots report, citing lobbying disclosure forms, says that both companies have lobbied Congress on immigration issues. Between 2008 and 2014, CCA directly lobbied members of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which set the bed quota, according to the report. Both CCA and the GEO Group have acknowledged in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission that immigration reform or other efforts to liberalize the immigrant detention system would undermine the companies’ business, the report says.

Both companies received contracts to operate family detention centers in Texas following the child migrant crisis last year. CCA runs the newly constructed, 2,400-bed family detention center at Dilley, while the GEO Group operates a 530-bed family detention center in Karnes City.

Mothers detained at the Karnes City facility have launched hunger strikes twice this month to protest their continued detention while they apply for asylum.

Marichuy Leal, a transgender woman who was released from a CCA-run detention facility in Eloy, Arizona, this year, described her detention as a traumatic experience.

“I got tortured in Mexico,” Leal said on Wednesday’s call. She said she came to the United States seeking asylum, “but my torture kept going in the detention center. There’s no safety in the detention center where I got detained. I was abused by my cellmate, abused by the security guards.”

Bethany Carson, a co-author of the study who spoke on the call, said the detention bed quota is “inhumane” and “unnecessary.” The Grassroots report urges policymakers to reduce the number of required detention beds through “community-based” alternatives to detention. The report does not describe those alternatives in detail, but Grassroots has in the past endorsed programs in which immigration authorities partner with non-governmental organizations to ensure that released migrants comply with court proceedings and find access to community services.

“The only beneficiaries from the detention quota are for-profit corporations that benefit from human pain,” Carson told reporters.


To read the full article, click here.


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Undocumented Immigrants and Healthcare

Posted on 25. Apr, 2015 by .


In a recent article, the state of Ohio was declared the worst state for undocumented immigrants when it comes to healthcare. For the record, California was the best, most inclusive state!fus_map_150415

The study, by researchers at the UC Global Health Institute and UCLA, looked at policies that can affect health, including access to public benefits, higher education, and driver’s licenses, as well as good labor practices.”

To read the full article, click here!

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United Farm Worker Movement Rallies

Posted on 25. Apr, 2015 by .


unnamedOur very own Bro. Mark Schroeder and Bro. Tommy King (pictured right to left respectively) along with other of their Franciscan brothers gathered in San Francisco on Caesar Chavez Day. They joined other UFW supporters to get the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution supporting the dignity of farmers. This resolution calls on Gerawan Farming to obey the law and implement a contract with its workers!

What a success!

Also, if you live in the Washington D.C Area, join a UFW rally on May 5th! View this flyer for more details.

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Equal Pay in the United States

Posted on 21. Apr, 2015 by .



Tuesday April 14th was Equal Pay Day. Based on the fact that on average women earn 78 cents to every white man’s dollar, women would have to work from Jan. 2014 to April 2015 to earn on average what white men earned from Jan. 2014 to Dec. 2014. Here are some not-so-fun facts about equal pay (or the lack thereof) in the United States:

On average white women earn 77 cents per every white man’s dollar.

It is worse for women of color:

African American women earn 64 cents on average

Latina women earn an average of 54 cents

However, Asian American women earn 90 cents on average.

For more information, read this article from the Huffington Post!

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The Pope Calls For An End to the Death Penalty

Posted on 11. Apr, 2015 by .


The following article is from the Vatican Radio:

The Holy See on Wednesday declared “bloodless means” are capable of defending the common good and upholding justice, and called on States to abolish the death penalty.

Speaking to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, urged countries to use a “more humane” form of punishment.

“As for those countries that claim it is not yet feasible to relinquish this practice, my Delegation encourages them to strive to become capable of doing so,” Archbishop Tomasi said.


The full text of Archbishop Tomasi’s intervention is below


Statement by His Excellency Silvano M. Tomasi

Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva

at the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council

Item 1 – Biennial High-Level Panel on

“The Question of the Death Penalty”

4 March 2015


Mr. Chairman,

The Delegation of the Holy See is pleased to take part in this first biennial high-level panel discussion on the question of the death penalty and joins an increasing number of States in supporting the fifth UN General Assembly resolution calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty.  Public opinion and support of the various provisions aimed at abolishing the death penalty, or suspending its application, is growing. This provides a strong momentum which this Delegation hopes will encourage States still applying the death penalty to move in the direction of its abolition.

The position of the Holy See on this issue has been more clearly articulated in the past decades.  In fact, twenty years ago, the issue was framed within the proper ethical context of defending the inviolable dignity of the human person and the role of the legitimate authority to defend in a just manner the common good of society.[1]  Considering the practical circumstances found in most States, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, it appears evident nowadays that means other than the death penalty “… are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons.”[2]  For that reason, “public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”[3]

Political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order are moving in the right direction.[4]

Pope Francis has further emphasized that the legislative and judicial practice of the State authority must always be guided by the “primacy of human life and the dignity of the human person.”  He noted as well “the possibility of judicial error and the use made by totalitarian and dictatorial regimes… as a means of suppressing political dissidence or of persecuting religious and cultural minorities.”[5]

Thus, respect for the dignity of every human person and the common good are the two pillars on which the position of the Holy See has developed. These principles converge with a similar development in international human rights law and jurisprudence. Moreover, we should take into account that no clear positive effect of deterrence results from the application of the death penalty and that the irreversibility of this punishment does not allow for eventual corrections in the case of wrongful convictions.

Mr. Chairman,

My Delegation contends that bloodless means of defending the common good and upholding justice are possible, and calls on States to adapt their penal system to demonstrate their adhesion to a more humane form of punishment.  As for those countries that claim it is not yet feasible to relinquish this practice, my Delegation encourages them to strive to become capable of doing so.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the Holy See Delegation fully supports the efforts to abolish the use of the death penalty. In order to arrive at this desired  goal, these steps need to be taken: 1) to sustain the social reforms that would enable society to implement the abolition of the death penalty;  2) to improve prison conditions, to ensure respect for the human dignity of the people deprived of their freedom.[6]

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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