Yesterday afternoon, as President Biden gave the first press conference of his term where he touched on key immigration issues, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) held a virtual discussion on the reintroduction of the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), a trans asylum-seeker and activist, and experts from the National Immigrant Justice Center, Detention Watch Network and the Women’s Refugee Commission.
The conversation detailed the importance of this legislation — including how it would eliminate mandatory detention, end the use of private detention facilities, stop family detention, prohibit solitary confinement and increase oversight accountability and transparency when it comes to the entire Department of Homeland Security — and called on President Biden and Congress to make its passage, along with transforming our current immigration detention system, a priority. Denise Bell, Researcher for Refugee and Migrant Rights at AIUSA, stated that “this bill is the legislative backbone to Amnesty International USA’s top domestic policy and top legislative priority: to free people from ICE detention in the Biden administration’s first 100 days.”
“This is a bill that ends the inhumane conditions of detention centers in this country, and finally transforms the entire immigration detention system so that it’s focused on the well-being, civil rights, human rights and dignity of all immigrants,” said Representative Jayapal. “It’s taking the profit motive out of immigration enforcement. It’s ensuring that far fewer people actually end up in detention in the first place. And then of course, guaranteeing humane conditions for any person who does.”
Alejandra, a trans woman and activist who was detained by ICE after fleeing El Salvador, told her story of the horrors she faced while in detention for nearly two years and the lack of medical care: “What we want as trans women is for the suffering to stop in these detention centers. When a woman has been detained by immigration or requests asylum, she should automatically be released and her asylum processing should continue outside of the detention center, so that she does not suffer what we suffered before and so that her rights are not violated.”
All of the quotes above are approved for use by media. Amnesty International USA experts are available for interviews on this topic.