Give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free....yeah, right.
I have a friend named “Elliott.” We went to high school together, worked on goofy Shakespeare projects together, and played an occasional game of tennis. Elliot likes the music from West Side Story, adores chocolate, and would always have Spam in his home. Elliott was also a gang member that got into some trouble that landed him in prison. After serving time, Elliott was transferred to an immigrant detention center. You see, Elliott is a legal permanent resident but because he didn’t have citizenship, the government tried to deport him. Elliott spent more than 7 months in detention.
During his time in detention, he was given no-contact visits. His family couldn’t visit him very often because he was more than 8 hours away and when they did, he couldn’t hug his mother or father. The conditions of the detention center mirrored that of the prison he had been in for much of his youth. The same oppressive, dehumanizing environment that exists in our prisons is pervasive in these immigrant detention centers.
Elliott was eventually released, had his case constitutionally overturned, and ended up graduating from UC Berkeley. His case is an extraordinary one. Most detainees languish for months or even years, isolated from loved ones, and are subjected to horrific conditions. This needs to stop now and you can help- Call on President Obama to change our unfair, unjust approach to immigration detention.