National Immigration Forum

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Detention Reform Advocates Come to Washington to Add Their Voices to the Detention Policy Review

September 23, 2009 - Posted by Lena Graber

By August of this year, the immigration detention system had become a public relations nightmare for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the immigration enforcement agency charged with detaining immigrants pending their removal.  Several independent reports and media investigations highlighted immigrants dying in detention. 


On August 6, ICE announced its plans for a detention overhaul, to be led by Dr. Dora Schriro, the administration’s appointed Special Advisor on ICE and Detention and Removal and an expert on correctional policy who had worked with DHS Secretary Napolitano (when she was Governor of Arizona) in reforming Arizona’s prison system.  Although Dr. Schriro recently announced that she was leaving the administration for a position in New York City, she had previously completed a six month review of the detention system that will help guide the restructuring process, and DHS has promised to conduct a national search to replace her in directing the Office of Detention Policy and Planning, which will lead the detention reform process.


Beginning September 24, advocates for detention reform will meet in Washington, taking the opportunity to give their input to the reform process.  The occasion is the Detention Watch Network’s 8th National Conference.  The DWN is a national coalition of organizations and individuals that advocates for fair and humane treatment for immigrants in detention. 


In addition to meeting with Assistant Secretary of ICE John Morton about the proposed detention reforms, members of the Network will also meet with members of Congress to discuss detention legislation.  Some legislation was introduced earlier this year to protect the rights of immigrant detainees.


At the conference, DWN members will also discuss the network’s policy priorities and develop their legal and organizing projects.  The conference should provide a chance for members to reconnect and reenergize their collaboration. 


For more on the conference, go to the DWN Web site here.

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