April 25, 2019
White House Doesn’t Want Miller to Testify to Congress
The House Oversight Committee issued an invitation for Stephen Miller to testify before Congress about the Trump administration’s immigration policies in general and the recently disclosed plan to send immigrants released from detention to sanctuary cities. On the final point, it is not clear this was a “plan” so much as an idea floated that was ultimately rejected. However, an explanation before Congress about how these decisions are being made seems a reasonable request for an Oversight committee to make.
The White House declined the invitation.
The overall lack of oversight on immigration policy is a disgrace. Though the Department of Homeland Security does some inspections of detention facilities, problems noted never seem to be solved.
Child detention has been particularly problematic. It takes place through a variety of offices - most directly the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Children are placed in facilities that are required to meet state licensing requirements. However, despite a track record of abuse, the same non-profit and corporate institutions continue to receive contracts from ORR. Though states have some authority to shut down child detention facilities that fail to meet state licensing requirements, they rarely take those steps.
On recent exception was Arizona, which shut down Southwest Key’s operations temporarily when the non-profit failed to provide background checks on employees. Southwest Key paid a fine, and two facilities were closed permanently. But this is not nearly enough.
In February this year, it was reported that an average of 1,000 immigrant children a year had reported being sexually abused while in detention since 2015. How many children have actually suffered from sexual abuse in detention is not known; reported abuse is always well below actual occurrence. Given the tenuous situation these children are in, actual reporting is likely very, very far below what these children are suffering.
Local Action Spotlight: Marie Joseph House in Chicago
Yesterday we shared a comprehensive proposal from National Immigrant Justice Center to end incarceration of immigrants, and move toward community-based alternatives. Please read and share the report.
A section of the report from the National Immigrant Justice Center, includes a profile of the Marie Joseph House in Chicago. It is well worth a read to see how alternatives that are more humane and cost effective can work.
The Marie Joseph House provides food and shelter for men, women, and families, along with an individual case manager for each guest responsible for ensuring referrals and connections to religious, health, legal, educational, language, and vocational services that are already well established in the community. ICDI [Interfaith Community for Detained Immigrants] staff and volunteers augment their case management services through networked connections with other nonprofits throughout the Chicago area, deftly connecting program participants with existing community resources. This holistic model ensures asylum seekers and immigrants receive the information and tools they need to navigate their immigration cases. ICDI’s case management staff also has observed the positive impact its programming has on the larger community, as volunteers and community members learn about new cultures and traditions.