Forum Takes Critical Look at Immigrant Detentions

Maria Hinojosa speaking at the Fi2W forum on immigrant detention

Maria Hinojosa speaking at the Fi2W forum on immigrant detention. (Photo: Sarah Kate Kramer)

In the opening scene of the PBS documentary Lost in Detention,  Kumar Kibble, the deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) states:

“We have a job to do.  We enforce immigration law and we seek to remove people that are here illegally from the country. In terms of protecting the public and also in terms of border security.  We’re setting records with our enforcement results.”

The documentary, narrated by journalist Maria Hinojosa, goes on to reveal a system in which some 400-thousand immigrants are detained each year. Detainees are often denied basic human rights and there are widespread complaints of sexual and physical abuse as well as racial profiling of detainees.

Hinojosa recently spoke at a forum on immigrant detention at The New School.  In this podcast you’ll hear highlights of her remarks and those of the other panelists, including long-time Fi2W contributor Valeria Fernandez,  Jackie Vimo from the New York Immigration Coalition and Amy Gottlieb, director of the American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program in Newark, New Jersey.

Listen to the podcast:

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Podbean

Watch the entire immigrant detention forum on YouTube.

Further reading:

On the impact of immigrant detentions on children and families:

“Quiet, slow motion tragedies unfold every day in immigration detention centers throughout the country, as parents caught up in immigration enforcement are separated from their young children and disappear into the detention system.”

The panelists

The panelists at the Fi2W forum on immigrant detention. From left, John Rudolph, Maria Hinojosa, Valeria Fernandez, Amy Gottlieb, Jackie Vimo. (Photo: Sarah Kate Kramer)

Read more in Disappearing Parents, a report from the University of Arizona.

On sexual abuse of detainees:

“In May 2010, reports surfaced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was investigating allegations that a guard at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, an immigrationdetention center in Texas, had sexually assaulted several female detainees. The guard, who was arrested on August 19, 2010 on suspicion of official oppression and unlawful restraint,allegedly groped women while transporting them to an airport and a bus station where they were being released.  While largely covered in the media as an isolated incident, this is only the latest in a series of assaults, abuses, and episodes of harassment that have quietly emerged as a pattern across the rapidly expanding national immigration detention system.

Due to a shortage of publicly available data and the closed nature of the detention system, the extent to which ICE detainees are subject to sexual abuse nationwide is unclear, but the known incidents and allegations are too serious and too numerous to ignore. They point to an urgent need for investigation and for swift action to correct glaring gaps in detention policy, practice, and oversight.”

Read more in The Human Rights Watch report Detained and at Risk: Sexual Abuse and Harassment in United States Immigration Detention.

On abuse of LGBTQ immigrant detainees:

“Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) filed 13 complaints in April 2011 with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of Inspector General demanding that the Obama administration investigate abuse allegations and take action to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants in DHS custody.”

Read more on the National Immigrant Justice Center’s website.

The Detention Dilemma: Families, Security and Immigrant Rights was co-sponsored by Feet in 2 Worlds and the Global Studies Program, the Global Migration Group, and the International Center for Migration, Ethnicity and Citizenship at The New School.

Feet in Two Worlds is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Fi2W podcasts are supported in part by WNYC Radio and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.


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AboutJohn Rudolph
John Rudolph, Executive Producer, is a journalist with more than 40 years experience as a public radio program host and producer of documentaries, podcasts and news reports. John produced the award-winning documentary Feet in Two Worlds: Immigrants in a Global City, which was the debut for the Feet in 2 Worlds project.