- Immigrant arrests rise in the United States.
- The number is more than double than at the end of February.
- Almost 27,000 people had been arrested as of July 22.
Migrant arrests rise, the number is more than double than at the end of February, almost 27,000 people as of July 22, according to the most recent data from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE), as was reported by the AP news agency and the portal San Diego Tribune.
Alexander Martínez says he fled due to homophobia, government persecution and the notorious MS-13 gang in El Salvador, but what he found was abuse and harassment in the US immigration detention system.
HISTORY OF PERSECUTION
Since crossing the border illegally in April, the 28-year-old Salvadoran has passed through six different centers in three states. He says he caught COVID-19, received racist insults and abuse from guards, and suffered harassment from other detainees for being gay.
“I look emotionally unstable because I have suffered so much in detention,” Martinez said last week at Winn Correctional Facility in Louisiana. “I never imagined or expected to receive this inhumane treatment.” He is one of the growing number of migrants in detention centers across the United States. Many of them, like Martínez, have passed their first interviews to request asylum in the country.
Migrant arrests go up: ‘GOLPE’
That surpasses the 22,000 detainees last July under then-President Donald Trump, though it remains well below the August 2019 record, when there were more than 55,000 detainees, according to ICE data.
The increase in arrests is painful for the president’s pro-immigration allies, Joe Biden, who hoped he would change the harsh strategy of his predecessor. Biden promised in his campaign to end the “prolonged” detention and internment of immigrants in private prisons, which house most of the people held by ICE.
“THEIR POLICIES HAVE NOT BEEN UP TO HIGH”
“We are at a very strange time with him,” said Silky Shah, executive director of the Detention Watch Network, which campaigns to end immigration detention. “There is still time to change things, but for now his policies have not lived up to his campaign messages.”
The Biden administration in May canceled contracts with two controversial ICE detention centers, one in Georgia and one in Massachusetts, a move praised by activists who were confident it could be the start of a broader campaign. Filed Under: Migrant Detentions Rise
Migrant arrests go up: BUDGET
But no other facility has lost its contract with ICE, and Biden has proposed funding 32,500 migrant detention beds in its budget, a slight reduction from the 34,000 funded by Trump. Biden’s budget reduces the number of ICE detention places and transforms some of the resources to process parole releases and other alternatives, according to a White House spokesman.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said in a recent appearance before Congress that he is “concerned about the excessive use of detention” and promised to continue reviewing the problem centers.
Migrant arrests go up: WORRYING
The growing number of asylum seekers detained for long periods is one of the most worrying data, said Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Center for Immigrant Justice.
The number of detainees who have passed their first filter in the asylum process has risen from about 1,700 in April to 3,400 at the end of July, which makes them approximately 13% of all detainees, according to the latest ICE data.
Migrant arrests rise: ONE MORE CASE
“By ICE’s own policy, these are people who should no longer be detained,” Altman said, referring to ICE’s process of conditionally releasing asylum seekers until a judge decides their case. ICE officials declined to comment.
Martinez passed its first filter in May, which determines whether an applicant has a “credible fear” of persecution in their home country. But his lawyers say he is being held by ICE because of the mistaken belief that he belongs to MS-13.
Martínez said he fled El Salvador after he and his family received death threats because he testified against the gang in the investigation into the death of a friend. He says investigators tried to get him to testify in other gang-related murder cases, but he was reluctant because he had not witnessed those crimes.
“I was very scared,” Martinez said. “I told investigators that I would drop the case. I no longer wanted to go through the process because I do not want them to harm my family, or me. ICE agents in New Orleans declined to comment on Martinez’s case and specific concerns about the treatment of inmates at Winn. Officials cited federal confidentiality laws that affect cases involving victims of violence and other crimes. Filed Under: Migrant Detentions Rise
Winn, one of the largest ICE detention centers in the country, has long sparked outrage among civil rights advocates. The Southern Povert Law Center in June called on the Biden administration to cancel the government’s contract with the center because of abuse, medical malpractice, racism and other forms of mistreatment on the campus, located in the middle of a dense forest in rural Louisiana and surrounded of wire with blades.
A spokesperson for the agency said that overall, ICE is committed to ensuring that detainees are in a clean, safe and secure environment, receive adequate medical care, and get written responses to their complaints and concerns. Filed Under: Migrant Detentions Rise
Opponents of immigration believe that more concerning than the increase in arrests is the apparent withdrawal of ICE from some cities and towns. As of last month, more than 80% of those detained had been captured by Border Patrol agents, and less than 20% by ICE agents, according to agency data. In July of last year, under Trump, 40% had been detained by the Border Patrol and 60% by ICE.
That means most of the detainees were caught trying to enter the country illegally, not by local immigration agents, said Andrew Arthur, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates reducing immigration. Filed Under: Migrant Detentions Rise
“We are simply not enforcing immigration law in the interior of the country,” he said. Meanwhile, detainees and activists are calling for detention centers to be closed in exchange for monitoring parole migrants with GPS devices and other measures.
Several ICE detainees at New Jersey’s Bergen County Jail filed an administrative complaint last month with Homeland Security’s civil rights office calling for an investigation into allegations of poor sanitation and medical negligence during the pandemic. Filed Under: Migrant Detentions Rise