Immigration activists self-deport in order to infiltrate detention center
Viridiana Martinez, a NIYA organizer, put herself in deportation proceedings to infiltrate a detention center in Broward County, South Florida.
Undocumented immigration activists infiltrated an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Southern Florida to conduct an undercover investigation. They claim to have found more than 100 low priority cases of people who, according to recent policies of the Obama administration, should be released.
Over the last month and a half, seven activists from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) intentionally placed themselves through deportation proceedings to gain access to the Broward Transitional Center. NIYA says similar infiltrations have been taking place all over the country in order to expose irregularities in the system.
“Our organizers inside of the detention center have discovered that the Obama administration is still deporting the same people it promises not to deport,” NIYA said in a statement released on Monday.
In a June 2011 document known by activists as the “Morton Memo,” the administration discouraged immigration officials from prosecuting DREAM Act-eligible youth. More recently, the administration extended the policy with a historic announcement on June 16th of this year.
Many hailed the announcement as an end of deportations for undocumented youth, but NIYA remained weary, noting that the Morton Memo had done little to nothing to change the alarming rate of deportations under President Obama’s term in office.
Even after the more recent policy change, less than 2 percent of low-priority cases have been closed, said NIYA. Their findings at the detention center — essentially a case study — confirm this average, they say.
NIYA announced the findings of its investigation in a press conference on Monday. They found people who should not be there, including:
- More than a dozen DREAM Act eligible youth;
- Over 60 individuals with no criminal record or prior deportations, some detained as passengers in vehicles;
- Several cases of immigrants in need of immediate medical care;
- People with pending applications for U visas — visas for victims of crimes like rape, trafficking or domestic violence.
Many of the detainees have been at the facility for 5 to 9 months, some as long as 20 months, NIYA reported.
Activist called for a full review of each detainee at Broward and for all low-priority detainees be released.
(Photo: courtesy of NIYA)