Tag Archives: Arizona

Andrea Black of DWN talks to the Bond Fund about Arizona

Bond Fund:  First of all, full disclosure:  Andrea is on our Steering Committee.  Thank you Andrea, for all your time and expertise these last two years with the Bond Fund.  Can you talk a little about your background?

Andrea Black:  I’m the Network Coordinator at the Detention Watch Network.  Prior to that I worked as an attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, which assists and represents immigrants detained in Arizona.

BF:  What are your primary concerns about the new law in Arizona?

Andrea Black:  It is tearing apart families, and it violates our Constitution and international human rights law.  Clearly it increases the likelihood of arbitrary arrests and detention.  Once a person is detained, the likelihood of finding an attorney plummets.  Detained cases move quickly, and its very hard to gather witnesses, evidence, and put together a case.

BF:  What is happening locally with immigration enforcement in Arizona?

Andrea Black:  As a result of expanded ICE enforcement collaboration with local police, there is already a lot of immigration processing at local county jails.  The new law puts more power in the hands of local police to ask for papers, make a determination, and immediately hand someone over to ICE for deportation.  A person who can not show documents may be offered no options other than signing a stipulated order of removal, and getting on a bus to leave the country right then and there.  People don’t know what they have signed, and attorneys can’t get there fast enough.

BF:  Does Arizona have the capacity to detain all the people who could be arrested?

Click here to watch a video of Andrea Black

Andrea Black:  No, the detention system in Arizona is already out of control, with ever-expanding bed space, poor conditions,  and limited access to family and counsel that further isolates the detained person.  The expansion of the prison system on the backs of immigrants is lining the pockets of private prison executives, and ultimately the community pays the cost.

BF: How isolated are these detention centers?

Andrea Black: The Eloy detention center, for example, is out in the desert, an hour and a quarter from Phoenix.  Its very isolated, with limited visiting hours and no public transportation.  Families who travel from Phoenix to visit loved ones in detention will pay $200 for a taxicab.  When people are released, they are let out the door, with no way to get anywhere.

BF:  Do you have hope for the future of immigration enforcement and policy?

Andrea Black:  Communities are up in arms.  People are educating themselves, asking questions of their elected officials, making demands to keep their communities and families safe.  Here is the potential for reform.   What can we do to support it?  We can get the word out, share stories, and help people get out of detention for a fair hearing.

BF:  Thank you Andrea, for your part in helping people come together to call for reform.

For more information on the Arizona immigration law and how it will impact detention and deportation, check out DWN’s “Detention and Deportation Consequences of Arizona Immigration Law (SB 1070)

Advocates meet with White House to discuss 287(g)

Attorney Marty Rosenbluth

The White House’s Office of Public Engagement invited immigration advocates to discuss law enforcement practices in local communities under 287(g) agreements.  Among those attending the meeting this week was Marty Rosenbluth, attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ). The Bond Fund is working with SCSJ in North Carolina to help the community respond to local police cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Only Arizona and Virginia have more 287(g) agreements than North Carolina.  The Bond Fund has helped eight SCSJ clients post bond and get out of immigration detention, so they can have their fair day in court.

In July 2009, the Obama Administration announced plans to review the Section 287(g) agreements; issue revised Memorandums of Agreement; set priorities to focus local police enforcement efforts on immigrants who commit serious or dangerous crimes; and require local law enforcement agents to pursue the criminal charges that caused the person to be arrested.  “Despite these changes, and all the promises and guarantees, the overwhelming majority of people are picked up on small, trivial crimes,” said Mr. Rosenbluth, “And people are still put into immigration removal proceedings before their criminal cases are even heard.”  According to the ICE website, only eight of the Section 287(g) MOA are new or modified since July; the remaining 59 agreements pre-date the promised “improvements.”

Not only do local police fail to prioritize the cases:  ICE and the Immigration Judges fail too.  On the morning of his meeting with the White House, Mr. Rosenbluth represented a woman who had been released on her own recognizance by the local authorities.  She was not considered a flight risk or a danger to the community.  However, ICE detained her, and set her bond at $7500!  She has been in the US more than ten years, and she is married to a US citizen with serious health problems.  The family can not afford the bond and now she will probably miss her state hearing on the criminal charges.  “It was good for the White House to hear what is happening locally,” said Mr. Rosenbluth.

Logistically, the Section 287(g) agreements are a nightmare in North Carolina for immigration practitioners and their clients.  “Cooperation” between local jails and ICE makes it nearly impossible for an attorney to hold a bond hearing at the local immigration court in Charlotte, NC, before his or her client is transferred to the immigration detention center in Georgia.   First, the client must pay the bail to be released from jail for the criminal charges, and then ICE takes custody and the immigration court has jurisdiction.  As soon as ICE has custody, it starts to arrange transfer of the person from the local county jail to the immigration detention center.  If the request for a bond hearing is too early, there is no jurisdiction.  If the request is too late, the client has already been transferred to Georgia.  “It is clear the Charlotte immigration court can take jurisdiction, when ICE has custody, even after the person is transferred.” argues Mr. Rosenbluth.  So far, the Charlotte  immigration court has declined to do so.   Mr. Rosenbluth observes, “Everyone knows it is much more difficult to get bond from the Immigration Judges in Atlanta.  The attorney practically has to prove the underlying case to get bond.”

Once a person is in immigration detention, and far from home, it is hard to gather the documents and arrange the witnesses to prove a case for bond or relief from removal.  A client narrowly escaped that fate last week when Mr. Rosenbluth appeared on his behalf in the Charlotte immigration court.  The client had paid his criminal bail, and the Bond Fund was standing by to help with his immigration bond.  Mr. Rosenbluth was waiting, in front of the Immigration Judge, while the ICE Trial Attorney called to confirm whether the client was in ICE custody, but not yet transferred to Georgia.  She had to check back later in the hearing to verify that ICE had him, and he was still in the Charlotte area.  The bond hearing proceeded, and the client will be able to bond out before ICE transfers him.

The problems with local enforcement of immigration law are overwhelming.  “With or without the promised improvements in enforcement,” said Mr. Rosenbluth, “the 287(g) program is untenable and it should be scrapped.”  This is the message he hopes the White House understands.

Video: Is there Dignity and Due Process for Immigrants in Arizona?

Arizona Human Rights March 1/16/10 Footage gathered for the National Immigrant Bond Fund, a project is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute. Video by Will Coley, Aquifer Media.

Video: Why I’m Marching in Phoenix

Video: Scenes from the National Day of Action in Phoenix

National Day of Action in Phoenix: Stay tuned for more video footage of how the march relates to the work of the Bond Fund.

Call for Endorsements: 1/16 March on Phoenix, AZ

Read more about this event’s goals and become a sponsor.

January 16, 2010 – National Day of Action in Phoenix, Arizona

For more information, click image above or see Puente’s website.