April 24, 2019
Alternatives to Immigrant Incarceration
We write a great deal about problems associated with immigration policy, particularly the practice of incarcerating people for prolonged, indefinite periods of time while they await determination of their immigration status. So what is the alternative? There are, of course, different means of managing immigration that are more humane, ways that treat people seeking a new life with dignity and respect.
Today the National Immigrant Justice Center released its report, “A Better Way: Community-Based Programming as an Alternative to Immigrant Incarceration.” From the introduction:
The National Immigrant Justice Center calls for an end to the use of immigration detention in the United States and the adoption of programming that reflects the following best practices:
- community-based and community-supported
- operated exclusively by nonprofit organizations, using a case management model
- imposes the least onerous obligations possible on participants, without using ankle shackles or other GPS tracking devices
- commits to the development of trust between nonprofit operators and participants, including assurances that nonprofit operators will not be beholden to the government for compliance monitoring
You can read the full report here.
Local Action Spotlight – Freedom City: Austin’s New Program Leads to Fewer Arrests
When the state legislature in Texas passed legislation in 2017 to require municipalities to cooperate with ICE (essentially banning “Sanctuary Cities” in Texas), Austin’s city council took new measures to govern police interactions with its residents, including informing people of their right not to answer questions related to citizenship status. The program has led to a dramatic decline in arrests:
In the first three months of the year, there was a 57% decline over 2018 arrest numbers. These so-called discretionary arrests, for which social justice groups say a racial disparity exists, comes after police leaders were asked to take a different approach to nonviolent offenders accused of crimes punishable by little or no jail time, including traffic violations like driving with an invalid license.
The final numbers could vary, as officials work on presenting final statistics to the City Council in May, but they offer a glimpse of the effect of “Freedom City” policies adopted by the council in June. Members unanimously approved a pair of resolutions aimed at reducing racial disparities in arrests and protecting immigrant communities. The resolutions called on police to end most discretionary arrests, which happen when police elect to arrest someone for misdemeanors punishable by either a trip to jail or a ticket.
Read the full article here.