Sunday, September 30, 2012

Galarza v. Szalczyk | American Civil Liberties Union

Galarza v. Szalczyk | American Civil Liberties Union

Galarza v. Szalczyk

September 28, 2012
In December 2010, the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project filed suit in an Allentown, PA federal court on behalf of Ernesto Galarza, a New Jersey-born U.S. citizen of Puerto Rican descent who was held illegally for three days in the Lehigh County Prison. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents ordered his detention on the erroneous premise that he was an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic.
In November 2008, Mr. Galarza was mistakenly swept up in a series of drug arrests by Allentown police aimed at, among others, the construction contractor for whom he worked, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.  Mr. Galarza, who had nothing to do with the crimes, was jailed at the Lehigh County Prison along with other arrestees.  He was later acquitted of any wrongdoing.  Though he posted bail the next day, Mr. Galarza was not released because ICE had issued an immigration detainer against him, directing prison officials to hold him while it investigated whether he could be deported to the Dominican Republic.  Mr. Galarza’s Social Security card and Pennsylvania driver’s license were in his wallet at the time of his arrest and in the prison’s possession during his detention.  Galarza was not told why he was being held for nearly three days.
Our lawsuit argues that by jailing Mr. Galarza as an unlawfully present immigrant without even notifying him, officials from ICE, the Lehigh County Prison and the Allentown Police Department collaborated to violate his civil rights.  On April 2, 2012, the district court granted in part and denied in part the individual defendants’ motions to dismiss, holding that local police investigator who called ICE and ICE agent who issued the detainer could be held liable for violating Mr. Galarza’s rights under the Fourth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause.  The litigation is ongoing.  In addition to the ACLU, Mr. Galarza is represented by Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg LLP and Seth Kreimer, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
12/1/10            ACLU-PA Files Suit On Behalf Of US Citizen Illegally Detained By ICE for Three Days

Case Content

Legal Docs


Galarza v. Szalczyk - First Amended Complaint»


Galarza v. Szalczyk - Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss»

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Report: Invisible in Isolation: The Use of Segregation and Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention | National Immigrant Justice Center

Report: Invisible in Isolation: The Use of Segregation and Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention | National Immigrant Justice Center

Report: Invisible in Isolation: The Use of Segregation and Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention

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September 2012 — Immigrants in detention facilities around the United States often are subjected to punitive and long-term solitary confinement and denied meaningful avenues of appeal, according to an investigation by Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). The two human rights groups surveyed conditions in more than a dozen detention centers and county jails that contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The result is the first comprehensive examination of the effects of solitary confinement on immigration detainees.
While the harm caused by solitary confinement to inmates in prisons and jails has been well documented, Invisible in Isolation: The Use of Segregation and Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention shows that solitary confinement of immigrants in detention is often arbitrarily applied, inadequately monitored, harmful to their health, and a violation of their due process rights. NIJC and PHR uncovered numerous cases in which detention facilities placed mentally ill immigrants in solitary confinement rather than treating them, or separated sexual minorities against their wishes from the general inmate population. Many immigration detainees in solitary confinement had strict limits placed on such “privileges” as outdoor recreation, reading material, and even access to legal counsel. Overall, investigators found, ICE has failed to hold detention centers and jails accountable for their abusive use of solitary confinement.
In the report, NIJC and PHR call on ICE and Congress to end solitary confinement in immigration detention, severely limit other forms of segregation, and implement stricter oversight of the detention system.
Download a PDF of the report:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Immigrant Detention and the Private Prison Industry » Immigration Impact

Immigrant Detention and the Private Prison Industry » Immigration Impact

Sep 21

Immigrant Detention and the Private Prison Industry

The latest data on immigration enforcement show that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained a record high of 429,247 noncitizens in the 2011 fiscal year, an increase of 18 percent over 2010. Immigration detention has been steadily increasing over the last two decades.  A new report by Justice Strategies suggests this increase is largely due to the efforts of private prison companies.

The report, titled, “Privately Operated Federal Prisons for Immigrants: Expensive. Unsafe. Unnecessary,” documents the history of prison privatization in the U.S.  Political initiatives and legislative reforms aimed at getting tough on crime led to an explosion in the prison population.  Between 1980 and 2010, the federal prison population increased by 761 percent.  Private prison corporations took advantage of the situation to contract out their services to the federal government, particularly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now part of the Department of Homeland Security).
They were also able to capitalize on the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  In October 2001, Wall Street investors were told about the favorable post-9/11 business conditions:
It’s clear that since September 11 there’s a heightened focus on detention, both on the borders and in the U.S… The federal business is the best business for us.  It’s the most consistent business for us – and the events of September 11 is [sic] increasing that level of business.
These federal contracts are controlled by two corporations.  The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) incarcerates more than 80,000 people in more than 60 facilities with 90,000 beds, and the GEO group operates 109 facilities with approximately 75,000 beds.  These companies charge ICE approximately $90 per day for each detainee, extracting a huge profit.
However, there is a great deal of evidence that there are serious problems within these private prisons, including high staff turnover, deficient security, inadequate food and services, and substandard medical care.  According to Justice Strategies, “While the nation’s public prisons are plagued with problems, the record shows that the private prison industry is fraught with a higher level of serious operational deficiencies than the public prison system.”
In recent years there have been multiple reports of inadequate medical care for immigrant detainees, and multiple deaths resulting from the lack of medical attention.  Reports of mistreatment, abuse, and sexual harassment have also made the news and have been the subject of numerous reports, inquiries, and Congressional hearings.  The Justice Strategies report details several stories of mistreatment and neglect within immigration detention facilities.
Most of the noncitizens held in these facilities are not serious or violent criminals. They are being detained for civil immigration charges, or for illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported, and some are detained in prison conditions while awaiting their asylum hearing.  While the Obama administration made civil immigration detention a priority and has initiated some important reforms, it hasn’t been enough.  While improving conditions and medical care within detention facilities is an absolute necessity, Congress must re-think the wisdom of decades of immigration laws designed to increase detention numbers, and to line the pockets of private corporations who are all too willing to take on new business.
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