Updated Sat., Oct. 15, 2011
-- The inhumane conditions for migrants at the Pinal County Jail
violates US treaties on human rights and torture, ACLU Policy Director
Anjali Abraham said Friday.
"Terminate the contract with Pinal County Jail right away," said
Abraham, making recommendations to ICE, at the Human Rights
Documentation and Social Media Reporting Conference in Tucson.
Consulate in Tucson Juan Manuel Calderon Jaimes was among those
attending the conference held on the campus of the University of
Abraham said the current immigration detention system in the US violates
a number of constitutional and international rights. These include the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention
Against Torture, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination, treaties ratified by the US that apply to the
rights of migrants and detained persons.
Abraham described deplorable conditions for migrants at the Pinal County
Jail in Arizona. Rape, denial of medical treatment and prolonged
isolation of victims, were among the inhumane conditions.
The Pinal County Jail is one of the county jails and private-for-profit
prisons in Arizona where immigrants are detained, and often abused, by
way of contracts with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.)
In one case, a woman who should have been detained for 48 hours was
detained for a year. In another case, a woman with vaginal bleeding was
repeatedly denied medical care and then required a full hysterectomy,
one that could have been avoided had she received medical treatment
"The Pinal County Jail operates on a cycle of fear and threats," Abraham
said. Conditions are so severe that inmates in another facility had to
be pepper sprayed to force them to be transferred back there.
Abraham said the jail's use of isolation is alarming. "Locking someone
in a little cube for 24 hours a day only increases existing mental and
physical health issues," she said.
Pregnant migrant women in labor are being shackled to beds, which is
cruel and puts both the mother and baby at risk. Migrant women, with no
criminal history, are placed in cells with serious criminals. The
detainment of migrant women has far reaching impacts on families. While
many women are the primary caregivers of their children, their families
are left to fend for themselves.
Abraham said the most vulnerable populations in detention are the women,
children and the lesbian, gay and transgender detainees. In Pinal
County, transgender detainees are placed in cells with the gender they
do not identify with.
"They are victims of physical and sexual violence," she said. Further,
they are often placed in isolation when they report being victims of
"They are punishing the victim for being the victim," she said.
Tanya is a transgender woman who has lived in Tucson for almost 20
years. Her family members are US citizens and lawful residents. Tanya's
case is among those in the ACLU report, "In Their Own Words: Enduring
abuse in Arizona immigration centers."
Tanya was detained by ICE at the Eloy Detention Center for seven months.
She was placed in a men's housing unity and isolated for six weeks of
the time. After reporting an incident with detention staff, she was
placed in isolation. Then she was threatened by a male detainee who
tried to force her to engage in oral sex. She is now out of detention.
Abraham said the inhumane conditions at Pinal County Jail include
lockdown for minor infractions, including not making a bed, not moving
quickly enough or saving a piece of fruit to eat later in the day,
because people are so hungry in the jail.
In Arizona, ICE detains 3,000 immigrants on any given day, a 58 percent
increase over six years. These men, women and children represent 10
percent of the country's detained immigrant population.
ICE Detention Centers in Arizona are the Florence Detention Center,
Pinal County Adult Detention Center and Eloy Detention Center. ICE also
contracts with the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA,) a
private-for-profit prison company, at two separate facilities in
Florence, the Florence Correctional Center and Central Arizona Detention
Abraham said these ICE detention centers lack any grievance process that would hold detention centers and staff accountable.
Speaking of migrants being detained in private for profit prisons, Abraham said, "We don't need them."
Rubio Goldsmith of Derechos Humanos said the number of migrant deaths
in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona has increased dramatically in recent
years because of the militarization of the border and US policies that
have forced migrants into more dangerous areas, where they are far more
likely to die.
families came to work in the ranches and fields, and returned home to
Sonora, by well known foot paths. There was very little risk of losing
human life. Then, suddenly, there was a flood of deaths.
said the search for missing persons is difficult because of the lack of
central records for the , . There are currently 600 missing persons
in the Tucson region alone. There is no central location in the United
States, on the border from California to Texas, where families can go
and find help for missing loved ones.
there is a higher percentage of deaths of those who are risking
crossing the Arizona desert, because of the US policy that forces
migrants into dangerous regions.
said another reason for the increase in deaths is that people who have
lived in the United States for years are now attempting to cross back
into Mexico to rejoin their families. In the rush to get back to their
families quickly, they risk the desert crossing. They are unfamiliar
with the desert and too often die in the desert.
Since the year 2000, there have been 2,272 recovered human remains in the Arizona desert.
the conference, Danielle Alvarado, volunteer with No More Deaths.
Alvarado described the abuse by Border Patrol, as documented in the
recent release of report, The Culture of Cruelty. Border Patrol agents
repeatedly denied migrants water, food and medical treatment, according
to thousands of interviews spanning two years. Read more and watch
Alvarado also showed a video of a Border Patrol agent pouring out life
saving gallons of water in the Sonoran Desert, gallons of water left by
humanitarian groups to save the lives of migrants crossing the desert.Among
the most alarming discussions was the fact that when parents are
detained, their children are placed in state custody. The state then
often severs their legal rights to their children.
children of detained parents can be disappeared into the state system
indefinitely. Too often they are placed in foster care with no contact
with their parents.
Tuesday, October 18, at 11:45 am, in Tucson, Coalicion de Derechos
Humanos and other organizations will hold a press conference in front of
the Tucson Police Department to announce the airing of the PBS
Frontline documentary Lost in Detention.
Humanos said that last year, the Obama administration set new records
for detaining and deporting immigrants, with over another 400,000 slated
for 2011. Frontline correspondent Maria Hinojosa, in partnership with
American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop, takes a
penetrating look at Obama's vastly expanded immigration net, and
explores the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program.
Eugenia Carrasco of Derechos Humanos said, "Secure Communities has
created a nightmare in our community in Tucson and across the country,
resulting in a concrete and direct attack on the security of the
families we deal with on a daily basis."
can it be that someone who is on their way home from dropping off their
child at school, wind up being arrested and deported because of an
encounter with law enforcement for a minor infraction like having a
crack on the windshield," Carrasco said.
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