This month we celebrate Women’s History Month in the US. The members of the XXTRA team would like to acknowledge those women and families currently housed at immigration detention centers. Numerous reports document the inhumane and deplorable conditions to which many being held in these for-profit centers are subjected.
We share the music video and song by Miguel, called “Now.” The song and video include activists and others working to bring attention to those who are being detained in these centers. The video takes place near the Adelanto, California High Desert Detention Center. It includes images from the #SchoolsNotPrisons concert Miguel attended last October. Several immigrant groups hosted the event, including Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). CIVIC’s mission is to close immigration centers and promote education over detention.
According to CIVIC, the United States maintains the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world. Between 380,000 to 442,000 persons are detained each year. This is quite an increase from the 30 persons detained each day in the 1980s.
Persons from all walks of life are caught in the net. Legal permanent residents with longstanding family and community ties, asylum-seekers, and victims of human trafficking–are detained for weeks, months, and sometimes years.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes the lead in detaining men, women, children, and LGBTQI individuals in over 200 county jails and for-profit prisons in the US. About 60 percent of detainees are held in for-profit detention facilities.
The Women’s Refugee Commission observes that women and children often face horrific conditions at these centers. More relevantly, the Commission concludes that “Alternatives to detention, particularly community-based support programs, provide better access to legal and social services at a fraction of the cost and have proven to ensure appearance for court dates in more than 90 percent of cases.” Join us in acknowledging their struggle and celebrating those working daily on behalf of those who seek equal protection under the law and ultimately freedom. Like Miguel says, in his video and song:
And it’s time we talk about it
Let’s not waste our common ground
We will fall for standing and watching, all in silence
Dear Lord, are we numb? Where we going right now?