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Amnesty International Encouraged by Secretary Napolitano’s Decision to Identify New Detention Practices

WASHINGTON - Sarnata Reynolds, Amnesty International USA’s policy director
for refugee and migrants rights,
issued the following statement in response to U.S. Department of Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s decision to identity new forums
for immigrant detention:

“Amnesty International is encouraged by Secretary Napolitano’s decision
to find new environments for immigrants that will not require prison jumpsuits
and jail cells.  However, without a change in law, thousands of immigrants
will continue to be arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.

“Even after today’s announcement is implemented, without a change in
the law, tens of thousands of immigrants will still not have the right
to a bond hearing determining whether their detentions are warranted. Many
others will be detained for years, isolated from family members.  Some
detainees may even be wrongfully deported.  The law must be changed
in order for every immigrant to have the right to a bond hearing.

“Thoughtful, effective and low-cost alternatives
to detention exist, but they remain underutilized. Amnesty International
encourages the Secretary to consider the use of economical and successful
alternatives to detention in all cases.  The immigration detention
system is a crutch that sustains a shattered, inept and inhumane enforcement
policy.   It is a pitiable substitution for smart immigration policies.
A significant reform of the entire system is desperately needed now –
not tomorrow.”

In 2009, the United States expects to detain more than 440,000 immigrants,
a number that has been steadily rising.  This number includes asylum
seekers, lawful permanent residents, survivors of torture, and U.S. citizens.

Amnesty International recently released a
major report, Jailed Without Justice, documenting shocking human
rights abuses, along with dramatic increases in costs to taxpayers that
are related to the surge in immigration
enforcement and detention in the United States.  For a copy of the
report or further information, please go to



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