Adelanto Ends Its ICE Contract: Pangea Demands Just Closure - Release of Immigrant Detainees

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City of Adelanto Terminates ICE Contract with Largest Immigration Prison in California: Legal Advocates Demand the Immediate Release and Reunification of All Detained Immigrants with their Families and Communities

“Our lives don't matter to them. We could die in here and there's nothing we can do."  – Miguel Angel, immigrant detainee  

“I condemn ICE’s programs and the way they work trying to squeeze money out of detained immigrants and their family members. That’s inhumane, really inhumane.” – Walter, brother of an immigrant detainee

On Friday, March 29, 2019, the Adelanto City Council announced the termination of its immigration prison contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the private multi-billion-dollar corporation, GEO Group, that oversees the largest immigration prison in California. The announcement comes after hunger strikes by immigrants, lawsuits, and a report by the California Attorney General exposed the inhumane conditions inside the Adelanto Detention Facility, involving medical neglect, sexual assault, and the deaths of multiple immigrants. Adelanto’s termination was preceded by a series of other cities ending their contracts with ICE and private corporations in California:

  • Orange County ended its contract with ICE at two local jails in the last week

  • The City of McFarland ended its contract with ICE at Mesa Verde Detention Center (operated by GEO Group) in Bakersfield in 2018

  • Contra Costa County ended its contract with ICE at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond in 2018

  • Sacramento County ended its contract with ICE at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove 2018

  • Santa Ana ended its contract with ICE in 2016

Pangea Legal Services and our clients continue to expose the abuse of immigrants in GEO and other private prison facilities. “We want the immediate release of all GEO detainees at Adelanto and reunification with their families and loved ones,” said Jehan Laner Romero, Director of Advocacy at Pangea Legal Services. “Immigration is a civil matter and people do not need to be detained to pursue their cases; their detention is inhumane,” she stated.

One Pangea client, Miguel Angel, stated that for-profit detention centers put immigrant lives at risk: “It's because our lives don't matter to them. We could die in here and there's nothing we can do."

In 2017, the California legislature passed SB 29, the Dignity Not Detention Act, which aimed to halt the growth of private, for-profit immigration prison facilities in the state of California.  This law was passed along with AB 103, which prevents public jails from entering into new contracts with ICE or expanding or modifying existing contracts.

With fewer operational detention centers in California, private corporations like GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly known as “Correction Corporation of America”) are now beginning to sign direct contracts with ICE, circumventing California’s policies that aim to end the for-profit detention of immigrants. “I condemn ICE’s programs and the way they work trying to squeeze money out of detained immigrants and their family members. That’s inhumane, really inhumane,” said Walter, the brother of an immigrant detainee at a GEO prison. “For ICE to argue that they are keeping people in there for that long for any other reason doesn’t make sense to me. They just want to make money out of our families,” he said.

Together with our clients and those directly impacted by immigration detention, Pangea calls for a complete closure of all immigrant prison facilities in California and an end to the practice of imprisoning immigrants nationwide. We call for grassroots campaigns demanding just closures and the release of all immigrants to their loved ones and communities.

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FIRE Coalition: Statement Regarding Santa Clara County's Civil Detainer Policy

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Statement Regarding Santa Clara County’s Civil Detainer Policy

March 2019

Members of the Forum for Immigrant Rights & Empowerment (FIRE) Coalition, and its supporters, express our profound condolences to the family and loved ones of Bambi Larson who was tragically murdered in San Jose on February 28. We also urge the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and San Jose officials to not distort or politicize this tragedy into an issue regarding immigration by altering the County’s current civil detainer policy. At this time, healing and unity is what is needed rather than attempts to cause division among our County’s residents. We ask our elected officials to keep the County’s current policy intact so that all community members - regardless of immigration status - can feel safe and are treated equally.

Our County has taken a bold stance in defending and upholding sanctuary policies in the face of attacks by the Trump Administration. We have proudly stood with the County’s efforts to challenge the federal government in court given all that our residents stand to lose by dismantling sanctuary policies. Our County’s policy has made us a pioneer nationally and set the standard for others to follow. Any change in our policy would mean a victory for the Trump Administration and would undermine our County’s leadership in recognizing the due process and civil rights of everyone.

We know that changing the County’s current policy will result in immigrant victims and witness of crimes becoming even more hesitant to come forward and seek justice. There is simply no way to completely alleviate an immigrant community member’s perception that any interaction with local government could result in ICE involvement if any change in policy were to occur. Trust between the immigrant community and the County was already shaken by ICE’s successful efforts to get into our County’s jails last year and we cannot afford to deepen that mistrust by any change in our policy. All victims and witnesses of crimes need to feel safe  coming forward and this is especially true for the most vulnerable within immigrant and refugee communities. When our neighbors feel safe coming forward, that increases safety for all of us.  

The reality is that ICE already has unprecedented resources and tools to conduct its enforcement operations and our organizations witness the real-life impact on community members every day. Families, students, and community members are routinely apprehended by immigration authorities at their homes, on their way to work, and in their neighborhoods. This is a federal agency which has terrorized our local communities and committed untold atrocities against immigrants, including those who have lost their lives in their custody. It does not need any further assistance in detaining and deporting our County’s residents. Doing so would only make our local government complicit in the federal government’s devastation.

Now is the time for the County to be strong in ensuring everyone is safe and secure. We ask our community and those who support immigrants to contact the Board of Supervisors and let them know that our current policy should remain. Let us instead come together as a community and County to heal, unify, and build trust with each other.

FIRE Coalition Members

Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN)

Silicon Valley De-Bug

Asian Law Alliance

Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)

Pangea Legal Services

People Acting in Community Together (PACT)

Sacred Heart Community Service

Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic (on behalf of FIRE)

YWCA Silicon Valley

We welcome organizations working within Santa Clara County to join our statement as a supporting organization. If you would like to join this statement, please complete this form.

Floricel Recounts Separation From Her Family and Harrowing ICE Detention

Illustration: Miguel Arzabe

Illustration: Miguel Arzabe

Floricel Liborio Ramos, a single mother of 3 children, was separated from her children and denied freedom for over 11 months. She vividly retells what would have been an ordinary Sunday breakfast at IHOP that turned into a horrible nightmare.

"When you’re in detention, they own you. You’re impotent. They take a hold of you. And that’s where the uncertainty comes in. You don’t know if it will be weeks, months, or years until they make a decision. It becomes difficult to tell reality from fiction. It changes your state of mind. It’s like you are dead, but actually you are alive. It’s like when they put meat in the freezer. You’re stuck in time."

Since Floricel's release in March of this year, she has used her voice to speak out against ICE's vile tactics and the horrendous detention conditions immigrants are subjected to. Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/16/what-its-like-when-ice-detains-you-they-own-you-youre-impotent

High School Students to Deliver $25,000 Check to Free Detained 17-year-old Asylum Seeker

 ICE continues to criminalize Afghan boy

San Francisco, CA-  On Friday, June Jordan High School students will be delivering a $25,000 check to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release Hamid, a teenager fleeing Afghanistan because of safety concerns with the Taliban and ISIS. Hamid will finally be free after struggling for 6 months in an adult detention center, where he was placed based on an inaccurate dental exam.  

“This is a bittersweet moment. Yeah, it’s great that the bond money got raised, but that money could’ve been given to him for his college tuition.” said graduated senior Christian Ramirez. “He shouldn’t be paying anything to ICE because he hasn’t done anything at all, except not being from the United States.”  

The students are part of a group called 415 Unidos for Freedom. They have been focused on spreading awareness about immigrant rights, while also being a support system for people being unjustly detained. They have been interacting closely with Hamid’s case, and even skipped their senior trip last Monday to visit Hamid at the detention center in Bakersfield.  

“When I asked him if he’s spoken with his mother, he broke down crying because he hasn’t talked to her in over six months,” Alan Gutierrez said. “Thanks to his release, he will have the opportunity to contact his family.”  

Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, the students were able to make a strong connection with Hamid, which gave them the strength to work harder to fight for immediate action of his release.  

Pangea planned to sue ICE if Hamid was still detained by Friday, expending many resources for a single client who should have been released months ago.  “Although we are infinitely grateful for our community, the students, and the many Mosques who supported Hamid, we are just as frustrated by our system" said Hamid's attorney, Mariel Villarreal at Pangea Legal Services. “ICE is systematically criminalizing children and adult asylum seekers alike, and this needs to end."   

Who: Students from 415 Unidos for Freedom

What: Delivering $25,000 bond check to ICE to secure Hamid’s release  

When: June 8, 2018 at 8:30 am

Where: ICE Building, 630 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

Visuals: Check being delivered to ICE, rally by students and community members outside the building



 

Free 17-Year Old From Adult Detention!

Free 17-Year Old From Adult Detention!

Please join us in signing this petition calling on Senator Harris to help us free Hamid from the Mesa Verde Detention Center. This 17-year old child has been detained with adults since December, despite having a family friend to live with in Austin, Texas.

There is no reason for ICE to continue to deny his multiple requests for release. Please sign this petition calling on Senator Harris to champion Hamid’s case. Please help us get the word out by sharing this petition with a friend or two!!

Trump Administration Refuses to Release Minor from Adult Custody

Sign the petition to release Hamid, our client who is a 17-year-old Afghan child who has been detained in adult ICE detention for 5 months!

Last week, Democracy Now! covered the story of our client Hamid, who is a 17-year-old Afghan child that has been detained in adult ICE detention for 5 months now. Hamid was initially designated a minor when he arrived at the U.S. border in late 2017, after he walked up to immigration officers and asked for asylum. Hamid was placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) -- the agency that handles the care and custody of unaccompanied migrant children -- and lived in a state-licensed group home for other migrant children his own age. Several weeks into Hamid's stay, ORR sent x-rays of Hamid's teeth to Dr. David Senn at the University of Texas to try to determine his age. Dr. Senn never examined Hamid in person and only relied on his dental x-rays to estimate Hamid's age range between 16 and 23 years old, a seven-year span. 

Based on Dr. Senn's faulty dental exam, Hamid was then transferred from ORR custody to adult ICE detention in Bakersfield, CA, where he has been detained for the last 5 months. Meanwhile, Hamid has a family friend in Texas who has offered to support Hamid with housing and financial support, if Hamid is released from ICE custody. Hamid's attorneys have submitted a third parole request to ICE based on additional evidence of support for Hamid's release, but ICE has still not made a decision on the request. Each day that goes by is one more day that Hamid, a minor, sits in adult detention. 

Sign the petition to release Hamid!

Federal District Court’s Order Freeing Floricel Liborio Should Serve as a Lesson to All Immigration Judges Across the U.S.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Pangea client, Floricel Liborio Ramos, was freed from immigration detention after substantial litigation, multiple appeals, and requests for her release. Today, on her first day free after 11 months, Floricel came out to speak in gratitude for the massive community love and support she received throughout her detention. We hope that her case can set a positive example for judges and courts across the United States.  Read the Federal District Court's order here.  

Community members from Faith in Action, RISE, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the Immigrant Liberation Movement, and others out in support of Floricel's hearing at the Federal District Court in Northern California (San Francisco, March 13, 2017) 

Community members from Faith in Action, RISE, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the Immigrant Liberation Movement, and others out in support of Floricel's hearing at the Federal District Court in Northern California (San Francisco, March 13, 2017) 

 

Federal District Court’s Order Freeing Floricel Liborio Should Serve as a Lesson to All Immigration Judges Across the U.S.

 Immigrant rights activists celebrate the momentous reuniting of Floricel Liborio Ramos with her family after order by United States District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar requiring her release. The order should serve as a lesson to immigration judges that they cannot deny bond to immigrants simply because of a DUI.

WHAT: Press conference in celebration of Floricel’s returning home to her children after over 11 months in immigration custody

WHERE: Phillip Burton Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA 94111

WHEN: 11:30am on Thursday, March 15, 2018

WHO: Floricel, immigrant rights activists, faith leaders and other supporters 

San Francisco, CA- Immigrant rights activists hold press conference at SF Federal District Court Building welcoming Floricel Liborio Ramos after she was released on Wednesday following a District Court order granting her immediate release from the West County Detention Facility.  Ms. Liborio Ramos detention comes to a celebrated closure after District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar ruled that the Government failed to meet its burden to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that Ms. Liborio Ramos poses a threat to the community.

Judge Tigar found Immigration Judge Burch had erred when she unfairly ruled that Floricel was a danger to the community given her previous DUIs, “The IJ’s decision not to release Liborio Ramos rests firmly on Liborio Ramos’s two DUI convictions.[...] while an immigrant’s criminal history is relevant, ‘criminal history alone will not always be sufficient to justify denial of bond on the basis of dangerousness.’”

"[T]wo non-violent [DUI] misdemeanors in which no one was injured, in light of the other facts in this record, simply do not justify indefinite detention," Judge Tigar's ruling continued. In a few days, Ms. Liborio Ramos would have been detained for nearly a year, more than the longest sentence she could have served under California law for a misdemeanor DUI.

"We’re seeing undocumented immigrants punished twice by the immigration courts," claimed Jehan Laner Romero, Ms. Liborio Ramos' attorney at Pangea Legal Services. "This was the case with Floricel, who was complying with the criminal court order for her prior DUI conviction.”

Community supporters of Ms. Liborio have much to celebrate after 8 months of arduous efforts to support her case by packing the courtroom during her hearings, holding rallies and uplifting their support for Floricel. Immigration Judge Valerie A. Burch had denied her bond on two different occasions, even though the Government failed to sustain its burden to prove Ms. Liborio Ramos was a danger to the community. To many, this only highlights the unjust practices of some immigration courts — and the importance of higher courts and community members to hold immigration judges accountable. "An immigration court should not serve to merely justify an immigrant's deportation, but rather it should be there to serve justice," said Blanca Vazquez, one of the organizers supporting Ms. Liborio Ramos' case with the Immigrant Liberation Movement. "We hope Floricel's case serves as a lesson for all immigration judges across the United States." 

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Floricel speaks at press conference before the court that ordered her release (San Francisco, March 15, 2018)

Floricel speaks at press conference before the court that ordered her release (San Francisco, March 15, 2018)

 

4th of July Celebration Ends in Possible Deportation of DACA Recipient

Case Underscores Troubling Trend: Trump Administration Making False Accusations to Target DACA Recipients

California-- A recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Rodrigo Farfan, was released on June 27th from the Mesa Verde Detention Center after a campaign by community members calling on ICE to release him. ICE officials detained Rodrigo on June 15th, the same day the Trump administration announced it would continue the program created by the Obama administration in 2012.

Rodrigo, now 22, has lived in California since immigrating here with his family, from Bolivia, in 2001. He had previously twice renewed his DACA, most recently in 2016, and has a valid work permit through October 2018. Ironically, though the United States is the only country Rodrigo has known, he is facing deportation for celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks.

“I love this country. I have had my DACA renewed and I just didn’t think stuff like this happened to immigrants like me, and in California of all states. I don’t want to be deported, especially not for celebrating the 4th of July and the freedom that this country represents to me,” Rodrigo said from detention.

Last Fourth of July, despite his neighbors also setting off fireworks, police officers singled out Rodrigo and cited him for using fireworks. Several months later, local authorities charged him with a misdemeanor; he plead guilty and paid a $415 fine on June 12 of this year. Just three days later, ICE agents stalked Rodrigo outside his house and arrested him when he left for work. “We love Rodrigo and our whole family is devastated that he is facing deportation for something like this” says Fabiana, Rodrigo’s older sister, “he is the breadwinner of our family,”

Additionally, suggesting a troubling trend, ICE officials started spreading false statements about Rodrigo shortly after receiving inquiries from the media about his case. Echoing the wrongful accusations ICE leveled against a Seattle DACA recipient whom a judge ultimately released, ICE officials are making false and unsubstantiated claims of gang affiliation. The Trump administration’s preference for alternative facts is embedded in the exploitation of racial stereotypes to criminalize DACA recipients like Rodrigo and advance a xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda.

Rodrigo was released on June 27th on an Order of Recognizance and his Notice to Appear was canceled. “The actions of the Trump administration have resulted in Rodrigo’s DACA to be terminated. He was released, but only after his deportation proceedings resulted in his losing his DACA status.” Niloufar Khonsari “The Trump administration can right this wrong by giving Rodrigo his DACA back, unless the real message here is that DACA recipients are no longer safe under the Trump administration.”

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