The Village Voice recently explored the topic of immigration detention, bringing attention to the many harmful effects it can have on immigrants, especially victims of torture and those seeking asylum.
Through the story of a young Somali man who fled his home country in search of safety and security in the United States, author Keegan Hamilton displays the many shortcomings of the current detention system in this country. Entitled Asylum Insanity: Welcome to the Land of the Free, the article cites Megan Bremer, LIRS Access to Justice Staff Attorney and mentions LIRS’s ongoing community support pilot project that provides alternatives to detention.
Hamilton describes LIRS’s community support initiative:
Though the political climate looks bleak for advocates of asylum reform, an ongoing pilot project offers a glimmer of hope. The project allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at facilities in New York City, Newark, San Antonio, Chicago, and Minneapolis-St. Paul to release select detainees seeking asylum into a program coordinated by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. As of March 31, the program has helped secure temporary housing and social services for 32 people, including survivors of torture, victims of domestic abuse, and LGBT individuals, all of whom would otherwise have remained jailed indefinitely.
The article goes on to quote LIRS staff attorney, Megan Bremer:
‘There’s growing recognition from ICE that maybe detention is not appropriate for all of these folks,’ says Megan Bremer, a staff attorney at LIRS. Early successes aside, Bremer cautions that the arrangement is only temporary and receives zero government funding. ‘A lot of programs locally are running on a deficit. If it wasn’t for all the volunteers providing time and services, the program would not be in existence.’
To conclude, Hamilton cites both the humanitarian concerns and the financial burden as to why the United States may want to reconsider the nation’s current system of immigration detention.
We appreciate the Village Voice and Keegan Hamilton for highlighting this issue and LIRS’s work.
Additional information regarding LIRS’s work with alternatives to detention can be found through LIRS’s Access to Justice Unit. You can also visit the LIRS Action Center to let elected officials know you support humane enforcement of immigration laws.