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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Undocumented Detainees Petition for Immediate Release as Biden’s Prosecutorial Discretion Memo Goes Into Effect

WASHINGTON -

Several detainees in ICE detention facilities filed petitions for release today, as the Biden Administration’s new Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration law went into effect. 

The petitions filed this morning marks the beginning of a long journey for undocumented people across the country who have been unjustly detained and denied their due process.

“The new guidelines enacted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today represent a victory in the hard won battle around anti-criminalization waged by organizers,” said Jacinta Gonzalez, Senior Campaign Organizer for Mijente. “For the first time, there are no categorical exclusions based on criminal convictions -- in other words, no criminal conviction will automatically make someone a priority for deportation. Eliminating these criminal bars will help diminish the arbitrary and discriminatory framework used by law enforcement to take away immigrants’ rights.”

For many years, DHS has systematically retaliated against immigrant rights organizers and leaders. From surveilling protests against family separation to deporting immigrant activists who speak out about ICE abuse, to pursuing deportation to undocumented people who do not pose a threat to public safety, DHS has weaponized immigration enforcement to punish those who speak out against injustice.

DHS frequently targets undocumented people who have already served time for criminal offenses, indefinitely incarcerating immigrants with no clear path to release -- a practice proven to be deadly during the COVID pandemic.

“Today begins another stage and opportunity for anti-deportation organizers around the country to continue fighting case by case. We certainly have a lot to accomplish on immigration, but we want to take every opportunity to defend our people,” stated Jacinta Gonzalez.

About the Filers
Enrique Cristobal Meneses immigrated to California when he was 14 years old. In 2005, as a young adult, Enrique was sentenced to 27 years to life in the California prison system. For the past decade, he has attended classes, workshops, and self-help groups, and obtained his certification to be a substance use counselor. On November 11, 2020, in recognition of Enrique’s rehabilitation, California Governor Gavin Newsom publicly commuted his sentence. However, Enrique was immediately transferred into ICE custody upon his release. Enrique has been detained in Golden State Annex in McFarland, CA since his release from prison where has suffered retaliation at the hands of ICE following the exercise of his First  Amendment right to advocate for improved workplace conditions. The retaliation Enrique suffered includes wrongful termination of employment; purposeful deprivation of anxiety medication and access to mental health services; and the threat of transfer farther away from counsel and supportive community members.

Israel Arrascue was sentenced to serve a two-month sentence after committing a non-violent crime. He was almost immediately transferred to ICE custody and has been cycled between jail and NWPDC for two years. Arrascue suffers from chronic asthma, contracted COVID this year after a guard who refused to be vaccinated tested positive and spread the virus to detainees. His physical and mental health has dramatically deteriorated since his detainment: he has developed prediabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and was hospitalized for gallstones. His family has had to take out nearly $20,000 in loans to pay lawyers’ fees.

La Resistencia, a grassroots organization based in Washington State working to end the detention of immigrants, is delivering Mr. Arrascue’s filing to the ICE Seattle offices today.

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