"Our tax dollars need to be used to strengthen our families and communities and uphold our human rights, not for the militarization of our beloved borderlands," said one activist.
A coalition of over 80 advocacy groups on Friday co-sponsored demonstrations in eight U.S. states and Washington, D.C. as part of a national day of action demanding the Biden administration close all federal immigration detention centers, release all migrants in custody, and end deportations.
Throughout his campaign, President Joe Biden "pledged to create an immigration system that is just and humane, including ending for-profit immigration detention," the coalition—which is organizing under the Defund Hate and Communities Not Cages banners—said in a statement.
"Our community is enraged and ready to push the Biden administration to fulfill his broken promises."
"However, after taking office, enforcement, detention, and surveillance have only increased and in July 2023, over 90% of detained immigrants are incarcerated in facilities owned and operated by private prison corporations that rake in billions of dollars in revenue," the groups continued.
Noting that at least 11 people have died during U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention during Biden's tenure, the coalition said that "the negligent death of 8-year-old Anadith Tanay Reyes Álvarez in CBP custody further highlights an immigration enforcement system beyond compassion and beyond repair."
"Our community is enraged and ready to push the Biden administration to fulfill his broken promises," the campaign added.
The activists are urging the Biden administration to:
- Shut down federal immigration detention centers;
- Defund ICE and CBP by cutting their funding in Biden's fiscal year 2025 budget request; and
- Freeing everyone detained in federal immigration custody.
"We join our colleagues here in D.C. and around the country to demand the Biden administration to move away from the cruel imprisonment of immigrants, release those in ICE custody, end immigration detention, and halt all deportations immediately," Guerline Jozef, co-founder and executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, said in a statement.
Protecting the civil liberties of those seeking a better life in the United States is a core tenant of our nation's democracy," Jozef added. "Throwing vulnerable people into prisons is deplorable—and often deadly."
Jovanny Hernandez, co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition and an organizer for the New Mexico Dream Team,asserted that "it is our constitutional and human right for everyone to live free of inhumane treatment. Yet while the United States presents itself as a beacon of these human rights on the global stage, we continue to witness the violation of our rights at the southern border."
"Our tax dollars need to be used to strengthen our families and communities and uphold our human rights, not for the militarization of our beloved borderlands and the targeting, detention, and deportation of our families, neighbors, and newcomers seeking protection," Hernandez added.
Luba Cortes, immigrant defense coordinator at Make the Road New York, said: "ICE has a horrifying track record of mistreating immigrants—denying them access to legal counsel, denying them freedom, and severing them from their families. Despite this, our government continues to funnel billions of dollars into these detention centers."
"People should be able to navigate their immigration cases with dignity and respect and in the comfort of their homes, not from behind bars in a jail cell," Cortes argued. "It is time to hold this administration accountable. President Biden and Congress must stop wasting public money by unnecessarily punishing immigrants in these horrid facilities and instead focus on reinvesting resources into our communities."