August 26, 2019
The Quixote Center is a member of the Detention Watch Network and support their #DefundHate Campaign, which seeks to decrease - and eventually eliminate - Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s budget for detention, while promoting community-based alternatives to incarceration. The latest update, and action alert, from the campaign is below.
Congress is on recess until September 9th! Make sure they hear from you while they are in-district and before they return to DC in September.
After receiving a $200 million bonus from the supplemental appropriations package in June, ICE is at it again with yet another money grab. We recently learned that the agency submitted a transfer and reprogramming notification to Congress, which means we can expect that they are raiding other accounts to expand detention. With ICE and appropriators refusing to make this document public, the details of where ICE is stealing this money from and exactly how much will be taken remain unclear. This is the same tactic that ICE used last year to grab disaster aid funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during hurricane season to expand detention.
All the while, the current fiscal year ends on September 30th and ICE is currently detaining over 55,000 people, well over what Congress appropriated them for the year. ICE’s approved budget for Fiscal Year 2019 funded an average daily population of 45,274 people in detention, with the implication that the number would “glide down” from the 49,000 people ICE was detaining at the time of the bill’s passage to about 40,500 by the end of the fiscal year. Instead, ICE has continued to expand its detention population, now surpassing 55,000 people in jails across the country. ICE is using the authority to transfer and reprogram funds to make up for the immense spending gap this rapid and unaccountable expansion has created, and will likely look for even more funding for Fiscal Year 2020.
As FY 2019 comes to a close at the end of September, August recess is a crucial time for Members to hear about how they should defund hate in their appropriations bills for FY 2020.
We are calling on Congress to pass an appropriations bill that will:
Significantly cut funding for ICE and CBP and not use their current bloated spending levels as a starting point for negotiations.
Eliminate ICE’s ability to transfer and reprogram funds without any exceptions that would undermine this provision.
Your representatives need to hear from you.
Members of Congress will be in their districts for August recess until the week of September 9th. This is an opportunity to begin escalating and pressuring your Members. They need to hear from constituents that when they return to Washington D.C. and begin funding negotiations, their priority needs to be defunding hate by vocally supporting significant cuts to ICE and CBP.
Here are some ways that you can act this August recess:
Request a meeting in your district. Decide which Member(s) you’d like to target – of your two Senators and one Representative – and reach out to their district office to schedule a meeting. Prepare with and bring along this one-pager detailing ICE’s fiscal mismanagement and this letter to the budget committee sharing campaign priorities. Share with your Member of Congress why reining in ICE and CBP enforcement is essential to your community and how you will be holding them accountable.
Attend a town hall. Use this tool to see if your Member of Congress is holding a townhall during recess in your district. Learn about where this Member has been on Defund Hate priorities in the past using this scorecard for the Senate and this scorecard for the House. Prepare a question to ask during the town hall to try to have your Member commit to defunding hate by pursuing cuts in funding for ICE and CBP.
Bird-dog your Members of Congress. Consistently seek them out at any public appearance, put them on the spot with specific questions or information, and insist on straight answers to publicly reveal their views. Prioritize visibility if you can to apply maximum pressure on the Member. To help plan your bird-dogging strategy, you can use this step-by-step guide.
Make a call to release the Transfer and Reprogramming Request. Find your Representative HERE and your Senators HERE and note their phone numbers. Use this script when you call: "Hello, my name is [first and last name]. I'm calling as part of the Defund Hate campaign. I’m calling to express my deep concern that ICE is once again grabbing money from other parts of DHS to expand detention through their Transfer and Reprogramming authority. I encourage [Member of Congress] to publicize the document and vocally denounce this abuse of authority. Thank you.”
Local Activism matters
As we have discussed often here at the Dispatch, in the face of Federal intransigence on immigration policy, local action matters! A couple of interesting articles this week - with some ideas of how to get involved.
Court observation. You just need some patience and a notebook to help provide insight into immigration court procedures, which, until recently, operated largely undercover. Now that people are paying attention, court operations are coming to light. From Rewire:
Court observers attend asylum hearings to shed light on the immigration court system, which is among the least transparent institutions of the justice system. Qualifications are minimal—one needs only a valid government photo ID and the ability to observe in silence and take legible notes, since recording devices aren’t allowed. Volunteers can plug into different programs to share their observations, as well as discuss the process with family and friends or post their findings on social media. Collectively, this information can be used to highlight judges or courts that are particularly unfriendly to asylum seekers. It can also empower advocates pushing for systemic reform of the 50 immigration courts in 29 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands deciding the fate of every asylum seeker, many of whom are forced to return to the place they just barely escaped from.
Community Defense Patrols. Another article highlights the important role that rapid response networks can play in defending immigrant communities. A particular focus on this article are community defense groups that have come together to mobilize to protect community members whenever word gets out of ICE operations. From In These Times
Although the specifics of the tactic may vary at different times, community defense patrolling involves groups of activists walking, biking or driving around specific locations where people endure high risk of being arrested by ICE. With the threat of ICE ever-present in immigrant communities, patrol participants organize to monitor areas where raids and arrests may happen. Their physical presence in vulnerable locales facilitates a rapid response to help defend people targeted by ICE. Community defense patrols have been common historically, though new instances of these patrols are emerging again in response to Trump’s repeated threats of large-scale ICE raids this summer.
Yasmin Juarez speaks out on new Trump family detention rule
As we reported, and much discussed elsewhere, the Trump administration has offered a new rule governing child detention in an effort to get around restrictions in the Flores Settlement Agreement, which currently governs Federal government responsibilities for detaining immigrant children. The rule was introduced last week and will go into effect in mid-October unless it is blocked by the court.
Yasmin Juarez, whose daughter died after being detained at one of ICE’s three family detention centers, spoke out against the new rule in an interview on National Public Radio. You can read the transcript and/or listen here.
“Hunger strike protocols have been implemented”
Attorneys representing several men from India who have been on a hunger strike for weeks now, shared an email received from Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent as a response to an earlier inquiry from attorneys. Linda Corchado, who works with Las Americas and is part of the legal team, shared her edits and responses to the email. Definitely worth taking a look at here.