October 17, 2019
As Advocates Prepare for Closing of Private Jails, Case Highlights Power of Community-legal Partnerships to Free Immigrants
Companies profit by keeping families separated, but soon private prisons will be phased out of California.
San Francisco, CA -- Yesterday local mom Aida Andrade Amaya was finally released from immigration custody after a nearly 11-month ordeal that highlights the injustice immigrants face. The release came as the result of both community organizing and legal advocacy — with a lawsuit filed in federal court on October 10, 2019 and grassroots fundraising. ICE punitively required a bond even though she won her asylum case. Andrade's release comes as advocates are preparing for the closure of for-profit detention facilities in California under AB 32 — and demanding that all detained people be freed. While Andrade was held at the Yuba County jail under contract with ICE, the community-legal partnership that secured her release has the power to free many people held in private detention as well.
Ten months ago, in the middle of preparation for her asylum case, Aida was yanked out of her home by ICE and imprisoned away from her two children, Mario and Jade. Aida missed Mario's first birthday and wondered every day in prison if he would remember her when she saw him again. ICE detained Aida in November 2018 based on false claims issued in the form of an Interpol Red Notice against her in El Salvador, six years after Aida arrived to the United States. After hearing from four expert witnesses, listening to Aida’s heart-wrenching testimony, and observing Aida’s zealous community support that consistently packed the courtroom, no reasonable judge could deny Aida protection in the United States. She was granted asylum and a work permit while in prison, while DHS continued to use the false claims in the Interpol Red Notice to keep Aida detained.
It wasn't until ICE and the Attorney General faced a federal lawsuit, that they ended the unlawful detention of asylee, mother, and Santa Mateo County resident, Aida Carolina Andrade Amaya. But not before requiring her to pay $3,000. Andrade’s family worried how they would come up with the funds and luckily, the bond was posted by the Bay Area Immigrant Bond Fund, which uses community donations to help detained individuals across the state.
It’s these types of abuses that led California to pass AB 32, a bill banning for-profit, private prisons from operating in California. “AB 32 is a step in the right direction, a morally right direction. We have to continue to advocate and shut down all prisons, not just private, not just for immigrants, and not just in California — but for all communities of color, and other individuals who have been criminalized, incarcerated, and exploited through this current system,” said Jehan Laner Romero, Aida’s immigration attorney at Pangea Legal Services and an advocate for AB 32.