Asylum News–July/August 2010
One-Year Anniversary of ICE Detention Reforms
August 6th marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announcement that it intends to reform the immigration detention system and shift away from a penal model of detention toward a civil model that better reflects the purpose of immigration detention. Human Rights First urges ICE to implement important reforms including: ending the use of prison jumpsuits for detainees; increasing freedom of movement for detainees; permitting contact visits for detainees with family and friends; and increasing outdoor recreation time in a true outdoor recreation space. In the past year, ICE has taken several steps to develop its overhaul strategy, but the majority of detained asylum seekers and other immigrants in custody have seen little change. The nation’s sprawling immigration detention system holds up to 400,000 immigrants annually in more than 200 jails and jail-like facilities.
Read Human Rights First’s August 6th press statement.
U.S. Combat Mission in Iraq Draws to Close – Iraqi Refugees Still in Need
Following President Barack Obama’s affirmation on August 2nd that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end on August 31, Human Rights First urged President Obama to lay out his administration’s plan for finding solutions for displaced Iraqis and strengthening protection for the nation’s minority groups. Human Rights First emphasized that improving conditions for displaced Iraqis will ultimately strengthen Iraq’s long-term stability and security.
Read Human Rights First’s August 2nd press statement. Read blog by Human Rights First’s Ruthie Epstein Listen to August 10th NPR story on Iraqis’ expectations following the withdrawal – including an interview with Deb Amos, author of “Eclipse of the Sunnis.”
U.S. Releases Report on Compliance with Human Rights Obligations
On August 20th, the U.S. released a report on its compliance with international human rights obligations required as part of U.S. participation in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The United States will be reviewed before the Human Rights Council on November 26th. Read HRF’s press statement in response to the U.S. report. Read the U.S. report. Click here for more information on refugee protection and the U.S. UPR.
Helsinki Commission Holds Hearing on Iraqi Refugees
On July 22nd, the Commission on U.S. Security and Cooperation in Europe/U.S. Helsinki Commission held a hearing, “No Way Home, No Way to Escape: The Plight of Iraqi Refugees and Our Iraqi Allies,” to draw attention to the situation of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees still languishing in neighboring countries, including Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, and to discuss the steps the United States can take to ensure displaced Iraqis have access to durable solutions. Click here for more information on the hearing, including the video, the unofficial transcript, and the statements for the record. Read Human Rights First’s written testimony submitted for the record.
Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction of Arizona’s Immigration Law
On July 28th, a federal judge granted a motion for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the State of Arizona delaying the implementation of several provisions of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. SB 1070 has been criticized as unconstitutionally preempting federal immigration authority and as a draconian measure that would incite fear and result in racial profiling. The Tucson-based KGUN9-TV ran the story “Immigration crackdown poses threat to political refugees,” explaining how asylum seekers would be in danger of arrest in Arizona under provisions of SB 1070. Read more about SB 1070 and the surrounding litigation. Read Washington Post op-ed by Doris Meissner and James W. Ziglar, former commissioners of the legacy INS under Presidents Clinton and Bush.