California Immigration Detention Dialogue to Discuss Challenges Facing U.S. System in Light of Rodriguez Ruling, Realignment Process

Irvine, California – Monday, September 24, Human Rights First will hold an event at the University of California – Irvine as part of a first-of-its-kind national dialogues series designed to tackle tough challenges facing the U.S. immigration detention system. The event will occur on the heels of last week’s decision in Rodriguez v. Hayes, where a federal district court in California issued a preliminary injunction requiring that immigrants subject to mandatory detention based on criminal convictions, and arriving asylum seekers, who have been detained by ICE for over six months in the Los Angeles area be given a hearing before an immigration judge to determine whether their detention is necessary.  The ruling has the potential to affect hundreds of detainees held in California and underscores the importance of discussing immigration detention. Focusing on lessons learned in California, the day’s panelists will discuss ways to improve U.S. immigration detention practices, bring them in line with basic human rights principles and established best practices, and save taxpayer dollars. For example, the morning’s discussions will focus on California’s closely watched realignment process in an effort to derive best practices and lessons learned for immigration detention reform. Human Rights First notes that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holds the overwhelming majority of the over 400,000 asylum seekers and other immigrants it detains annually – under civil immigration law authority – in jails and jail-like facilities across the country. That costs taxpayers approximately $2 billion each year. California is home to 11 facilities housing 3,850 immigration detainees – nearly a 11% of the population detained nationally by ICE. In 2009 the agency promised an overhaul of the nation’s sprawling and mismanaged immigration detention system. While ICE has taken significant steps forward, including the establishment of an online detainee locator, an improved parole policy for detained asylum seekers, the development of a risk assessment tool, and stronger internal oversight mechanisms, these changes are a far cry from the transformation contemplated three years ago. This Dialogues series kicked off in Austin and will include future events in Arizona and Louisiana. It is designed to culminate with a set of recommendations – based in best practices and lessons learned from across the country.  The Dialogues seek to help re-shape the national conversation on immigration detention, build alliances among stakeholders, and lay the groundwork for future improvements in policy and practice. The Irvine event – drawing from a wealth of California expertise – will examine alternatives to detention, strategies to advance reform, mandatory detention/mandatory minimums, conditions of confinement, and access to legal counsel for detained individuals in California.  It will take place at the University of California Irvine and is co-sponsored by the UCI School of Law and the UCI Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy. The Dialogues are open to members of the press and experts are available for interview.

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Published on September 21, 2012

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