Decarcerate PA Statement on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

ni discriminacion nor abuseAfter years of community organizing campaigns across the country calling attention to the abuses of the deportation and immigrant detention systems, the national dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform has finally begun. While it is encouraging to see legislators agree that our current system is in desperate need of reform, we hope that any new proposals will not continue the assault on the human rights of current and former prisoners waged by our existing immigration law and policy. As a campaign fighting to end mass incarceration in all its forms, we want to share our positions on the recent immigration reform proposal and its impact on imprisonment in Pennsylvania.

We in Decarcerate PA believe that immigration reform must:

  • Recognize the rights of all individuals to remain in their communities, regardless of their immigration status, economic status, gender identity or criminal history.

  • Immediately reduce the number of incarcerated immigrants in Pennsylvania by ending the mandatory, indefinite imprisonment of individuals fighting their deportations.

  • End the practice of retroactive deportation based on prior interaction with the criminal system, which separates formerly incarcerated people from their families and their communities, subjecting them to permanent exile.

  • Recognize the destructive impact of the involvement of federal immigration authorities in local and state law enforcement, and provide transparency and accountability in addressing racial profiling practices that target immigrants in the criminal and prison systems.

  • End the practice of detaining immigrants in solitary confinement, particularly the indiscriminate use of that practice against queer, transgender and gender non-conforming immigrants.

  • Specifically address the widespread human rights violations alleged by persons detained by federal immigration authorities throughout Pennsylvania, including denial of access to legal service providers, lack of access to and inhumane conditions of medical care, and predatory corporate practices that charge exorbitant fees for phone calls and personal necessities.

  • End the practice of detaining and deporting individuals who have engaged in sex work.

  • Stop the use of the “criminal alien” label, which perpetuates stereotypes based on racism and xenophobia.

  • Recognize the particular needs of young people detained by federal immigration authorities as distinct from those of adults, and provide them with the protections and representation they need to meaningfully participate in their immigration proceedings.

  • Allow community-based organizations across Pennsylvania and around the country who have struggled to bring attention to the situation of immigrants in detention, from both within and outside of the prison system, to participate in the process of reforming our immigration laws.

  • Demilitarize the border. The outrageous use of resources spent on the border wall and drones should be diverted to benefit our communities, funding education and health care without regard to the immigration status of individuals. Allocation of resources to increase the violence, segregation and fear in our communities and along the border needs to be stopped!