For Immediate Release:
Carly Perez, email@example.com, 202-846-7059
Liz Martinez, firstname.lastname@example.org 956-572-4349
“Justice Comes from the People:” People’s Tribunal holds ICE accountable for its culture of secrecy and systemic abuse
Part of the #ICEonTrial campaign, a series of coordinated People’s Tribunals across the country
Richmond, CA — Today, Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), Detention Watch Network and other local and national immigrant rights organizations and people who have been directly affected by the immigrant detention system gathered in front of the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) for a people’s tribunal to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Justice, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office accountable for their institutional cultures of secrecy, collaboration, and systemic abuse. There were approximately two hundred community members in attendance.
The tribunal is one of a series of coordinated people’s tribunal across the country as a part of the nationwide #ICEonTrial campaign. The campaign comes with a rise of retaliation by ICE enforcement against activists, as the agency is emboldened to be less transparent and accountable and act with increased impunity under the Trump administration.
"It is obvious that ICE, Department of Homeland Security, and this administration will continue to do whatever they can to separate families,” said Lourdes Barraza, a judge at today’s people’s tribunal whose husband Fernando Carrillo was arrested by ICE in October 2017 after dropping his 4-year-old daughter off at daycare and detained at West County. “In our case, Fernando was taken from us for 6 months, causing us unbearable pain and irreparable damage.”
On March 6, 2018, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office and ICE terminated Freedom for Immigrants’ visitation program on the alleged grounds that the community volunteers violated the rules of the facility. Before our access was revoked, Freedom for Immigrants had reported systemic abuses and degrading conditions at the facility which efforts drew significant media attention and prompted local, state and national inquiries into the facility, culminating in the visitation program’s ban.
“The Sheriff’s ban against our volunteers is retaliation against both people on the inside reporting intolerable conditions and abuse and people on the outside relaying their concerns and demands to the public,” said Christina Mansfield, co-founder and co-director of Freedom for Immigrants, who started the visitation program at West County Detention Facility in 2011. “Because of this state repression, we have gathered here today to demand transparency and accountability.”
The judges of the People’s Tribunal issued the following judgment and demands:
Our judgement is that the ICE, the Department of Justice, the Contra Costa & Alameda County Sheriff's departments are violating our human rights.
Our first and foremost demand is:
the abolition of ICE detention and enforcement nationwide;
Until that ultimate goal is met, we demand immediately in the interim for the people currently suffering in this racist & profit-driven system:
the right to adequate health care and an end to medical neglect;
access to community organizations and their families, which are critical to the mental health of people inside;
an end to retaliatory and unjust transfers to other facilities;
the elimination of the profit motive for caging people - no more private prisons;
an end to exorbitant prices for phone calls and commissary items;
the right to language justice through interpretation;
the right to universal legal representation;
the removal without severance of deputies who have committed egregious abuses against the people inside their custody;
continuing protection for people with temporary protected status;
an end to Sheriff Livingston's violating state law by posting the names & release dates of people leaving his jails;
an independent investigation of the Sheriff and conditions inside the detention facility;
an end to unpaid labor by the people inside - if they are being forced to work,
they should receive wages to help their families on the outside pay rent and other living costs.
No more detention! No more deportations!
“The supposed legal processes for justice — both local and federal — instead serve to terrorize and exploit immigrants and people of color,” said Arturo J. Viscarra, human rights attorney, anti-imperialist activist, and volunteer with Pueblo Sin Fronteras. “That’s why people affected by the carceral-deportation machine are uniting to enact justice here today.”
“With Fernando's release, we have a renewed sense of hope for other families who are in the same situation and we have vowed to hold this administration accountable for their racist and discriminatory agenda,” said Mrs. Barraza. We will fight for those who remain in detention and are subjected to the cruel treatment of our local and federal law enforcement agencies."
Freedom for Immigrants (formerly known as CIVIC) is devoted to abolishing U.S. immigration detention, while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. We visit and monitor 43 facilities and run the largest national hotline for detained immigrants. Through these windows into the system, we gather data and stories to combat injustice at the individual level and push systemic change.www.freedomforimmigrants.org
Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit www.detentionwatchnetwork.org
Pueblo Sin Fronteras is a collective of friends who decided to be in permanent solidarity with displaced peoples. For more than fifteen years, members of Pueblo Sin Fronteras have been reaching out to the most vulnerable immigrants in the United States and to migrants and refugees on the move. We accompany migrants and refugees in their journey of hope, and together, we demand our human rights. We provide humanitarian aid to migrants and refugees on the move. Our dream is to build solidarity bridges among peoples and turndown border walls imposed by greed. www.pueblosinfronteras.org
The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity works to achieve an equitable, inclusive and healthy society, culture, and economy where the most vulnerable, disenfranchised and marginalized have equal opportunities and access to the resources and tools needed to achieve a dignified quality of life. www.im4humanintegrity.org
Kehilla Community Synagogue’s Immigration Committee holds a monthly multi-faith, one-hour protest on site called Let Our People Go, on the second Sunday of every month. Let Our People Go is a youth-and-elder-friendly, accessible action that opposes the detentions/deportations and mass incarceration with activist debriefs, music, art, stories and representation from different faith communities (including faithful and faithless humanists). www.kehillasynagogue.org/immigration-committee
Contra Costa Immigrant Rights Alliance (CCIRA) seeks to end ICE collaboration in Contra Costa and to promote immigrant rights, inclusion and spirit of welcome in cities throughout the county. www.facebook.com/ContraCostaImmigrantRightsAlliance
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice. Local BAJI Organizing Committees in New York, Georgia, California and Arizona build coalitions and initiate campaigns among communities to push for racial justice. At the local and regional level, BAJI provides training and technical assistance to partner organizations to develop leadership skills, works with faith communities to harness their prophetic voice, and initiates vibrant dialogues with African Americans and black immigrants to discover more about race, our diverse identities, racism, migration and globalization. www.baji.org
The California Sanctuary Campaign calls on California's governor and legislators to honor its diversity and protect its residents from the new regime by declaring a statewide sanctuary. www.facebook.com/calisanctuarycampaign