FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2022
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CHICAGO – A week after Congress passed a government spending bill that maintains Trump-era levels of funding for immigration detention, on March 14 a coalition of migrant leaders and allies called for an end to immigration detention and for the creation of a universal legal representation program that guarantees legal defense to all those facing deportation. The calls came during a virtual press conference with Alianza Americas, the Vera Institute of Justice, the Latino Policy Forum, and the Center for Immigrant Progress as part of the #FreedomForAll campaign, a coalition of advocacy groups that defends the rights of people of all countries to seek better living conditions for themselves and their families.
“It is shameful that we have spent so much money in the past to keep immigrants in detention. But instead of correcting this behavior, we are planning to keep doing so in the future. The US Congress plans to continue to spend billions of dollars to keep immigrants in detention, in spite of their highly positive role in our society,” said Oscar Chacón, executive director at Alianza Americas. “The very reason why we’re launching #FreedomForAll is that for too long, we’ve been pursuing a wrong public policy approach, wasting a lot of taxpayers’ money to keep immigrants in detention, oftentimes denying them access to much needed professional and capable legal representation. This is why we are also calling for universal legal representation, because while the law that we now have in place continues to be the law of the land, it is absolutely crucial for people experiencing immigration detention to count with legal representation.”
On behalf of the Vera Institute of Justice, initiative director Annie Chen said that “Legal representation is not just a due process or even just a fairness issue. It’s an economic justice issue, a health justice issue, especially during the COVID pandemic, and a racial justice issue.”
“We believe immigrants facing deportation should be allowed to walk through this process with their community by their side and with legal representation. #FreedomForAll means freedom from detention, releases, not transfers, and a fair chance at deportation defense,” said Sandra Diaz, director of communications at the Center for Immigrant Progress.
Sarah Cartagena, a senior policy analyst at Latino Policy Forum, added that “lack of representation can result in unjust convictions and detainment. The detention of immigrants does not just affect the detained individuals but it also disrupts the lives of their families and community.”
“Let’s remember that immigrants, every immigrant, has been a blessing for the U.S. and they have also been an incredible source of help for millions of families in their own countries. If anything, we should be welcoming immigrants, not putting them in detentions because they have committed an administrative infraction,” concluded Oscar Chacón.
To watch the full press conference, visit Alianza America’s Facebook page.
Alianza Americas is the only transnational organization rooted in Latino immigrant communities in the United States focused on improving the quality of life of all people in the U.S.-Mexico-Central America migration corridor. As a network of Latino and Caribbean immigrants, Alianza Americas is working for change in the U.S. while also promoting a more stable, healthy, democratic and safer conditions in the countries of origin of their members.
Presente.org is Alianza Americas’ digital organizing powerhouse. As the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group — and the nation’s premier Latinx digital organizing hub — Presente.org advances social justice with technology, media, and culture.