Tag Archives: obama administration

An Open Letter to Janet Napolitano

napolitanoLast week  Mallika Dutt, Executive Director posted an open letter to Janet Napolitano, asking that the Secretary of the DHS revisit unfair immigration policies that have led to human rights abuses and preventable immigrant deaths in detention. I think its worthwhile to re-print the entire letter here, it  originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

We are delighted to welcome such excellent new leadership to the Department of Homeland Security. On January 30th you sent a directive for an agency assessment of current immigration enforcement practices to be completed by February 20th. As part of that review process, I am writing to urge you to revisit unfair policies that have led to human rights abuses and preventable immigrant deaths in detention.

As an immediate step we encourage you to explore secure, community based alternatives to detention and make the incarceration of non-citizens a last resort. We also encourage you to limit the detention of vulnerable populations like children, asylum seekers, and the physically and mentally ill, unless such custody is necessary to national security. Ensuring due process and guaranteeing basic standards of decency and fairness for detainees should be the bedrock of all detention policies.

With more than 300,000 people in immigrant detention and the number of questionable deaths in custody rising every month, it is more urgent than ever to ensure safe and humane detention conditions. Here are a few stories of detained immigrants whose voices too often go unheard:

Warren Joseph
, originally from Trinidad, a legal permanent resident, served in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Instead of receiving help and support, he was detained and threatened with deportation because of actions caused by post-traumatic-stress-syndrome. During his three years in detention, Warren experienced and observed serious physical and psychological abuse.

June Everett, originally from Barbados, lost her sister, Sandra Kenley, while in immigrant detention due to medical negligence. Sandra was a 52-year old grandmother who had lived in the U.S. legally for 33 years and was detained for a minor crime that she had committed many years prior.

Juana Villegas, from Mexico, was nine months pregnant when she was stopped for “careless driving” (for which she was later found innocent). Instead of receiving a customary citation, she was detained in jail where she was shackled as she gave birth.

You can learn more about detention conditions first hand by visiting Breakthrough’s online 3D simulation at www.homelandgitmo.com. The simulation is based on stories, facts and figures assembled from groups addressing the issue around the country.

As President Obama so eloquently pointed out in his inauguration speech, “…we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.” His leadership in making this a reality has been demonstrated by his call for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

We hope that your assessment of current immigration enforcement practices will clearly show that we need to bring closure to similar conditions on American soil and that our national security will only be enhanced by restoring due process and fairness to immigrant detention.

Thank you for your time and attention to this critical issue. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you the very best in your new position.


Mallika Dutt
Executive Director

Realizing the Promise Coverage Round-up

Hey guys! I’m back on the blog after a few days away. I hope you all enjoyed the fabulous live-blogging of the Realizing the Promise forum this past thursday. A BIG shout-out to Will Coley for his great work!


The event itself was amazing. So many people, so much energy and a palpable sense that we WILL ENSURE that the change we want becomes a reality.

Below is a round up of the articles and live-blogs of the event.

Also, below are a few excerpts of the article from the Nation.

Continue reading

Realizing the Promise: TODAY is the Day, Let’s Make some History


TODAY, December 4th, over 1500 grassroots leaders will gather in DC to talk directly with members of Congress and Obama’s transition team, to help shape the agenda for the new administration. “Realizing the Promise: A Forum on Community, Faith and Democracy” will mark the first large-scale progessive event since last month’s historic elections. No longer are our communities on the outside looking in at the powerful decision-makers: we have become the decision-makers.

And YOU CAN BE A PART OF IT! Watch the LIVE WEBCAST TODAY from 3PM to 6PM at www.realizingthepromise.org and check out the LIVE-BLOG.

Community members, REAL PEOPLE, will be sharing open dialogue with people as powerful as Valerie Jarett, who aims to be on of the 3 to 5 people IN THE ROOM WITH OBAMA when major policy decisions are made, AND Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who is the 3rd most powerful Congressman in the House. This is our time to be heard, this is our time to make sure that the agenda for the next administration is the agenda OF THE PEOPLE.

luisgutierrezwebAnd IMMIGRATION is sure to be on that agenda. Prior to the Forum, there will be a press conference on the Hill, where Rep. Luis Gutierrez will push immigration to the forefront of the country’s political landscape, and ask the new Congress and new Administration for an immediate moratorium on the raids and a renewed effort for comprehensive immigration reform. In the afternoon, Rep. Gutierrez will join “Realizing the Promise” to engage in more dialogue around these demands.

This is truly a historic moment in our Nation’s history and YOU can be a part of it. TODAY, visit www.realizingthepromise.org from 3PM to 6PM to watch the entire event LIVE on our WEBCAST. We will be live-blogging the event here at Standing FIRM, so be sure to check back for that too.