Welcome to "Stories from Detention," a six-week blog series examining the U.S. immigration detention system and exploring possibilities for humane reforms.
Detention is an aspect of the U.S. immigration system that, for all the attention it receives in the media, is not well understood. Anti-immigrant rhetoric creates the impression that detention is less problematic than it really is. Detention facilities themselves are often located in rural areas, away from the public eye. Immigrants held in detention facilities are often unable to tell their own stories because of the conditions of their confinement.
However, since the United States will detain over 440,000 people in 2009, it's worth a closer look.
In this series, every Friday I will post a short video in which a former detainee tells his or her story of experiencing detention. Each video will be accompanied by information about different aspects of the U.S. immigration detention system. At the end of each post, I will offer concrete steps that Congress and the Obama administration could take to reform each component of the detention system.
As you read these posts and watch the videos, keep in mind that these detainees' stories are not exceptional. Rather, they are indicative of system-wide injustices that must be corrected in order to restore the U.S. traditions of justice and equality.
Solutions to the current situation could be at hand in the near future. Members of Congress will soon be introducing legislation to reform how immigration works in the United States. Bills specifically on detention reform are already making their way through the House and Senate. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it intends to overhaul the detention system. Will all these changes become a reality?
Your participation in this process is key. This is an issue that affects everyone -- not just immigrants and their families. Once you willingly put up with someone else's rights being taken away, you expose yourself to the possibility that one day soon, yours will be restricted as well.
Listen to these immigrants' stories, share this series with your loved ones and people in your community committed to immigration reform, and let's work together to create a future with dignity and fairness for all people, regardless of immigration status.