12-15-2011By Refugee Protection Program
Human Rights First
Tuesday, Human Rights First’s Ruthie Epstein testified before the New York City Council’s Committee on Immigration in a hearing on immigration detention convened by Council Member Daniel Dromm and NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Her testimonyprovided an overview of the U.S. immigration detention system and focused on its impact on New Yorkers.
Epstein highlighted the recent increase of 750 new immigration detention beds in Newark, which will hold detainees from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as arriving asylum seekers and other immigrants picked up at local airports, and offered several key recommendations to the U.S. government to make good on its promises to reform the immigration detention system and bring U.S. detention policies in line with human rights commitments.
Epstein was the primary author of Human Rights First’s October 2011 report “Jails and Jumpsuits: Transforming the U.S. Immigration Detention System – A Two-Year Review.”
The Committee also heard testimony from former detainees, advocates for LGBTI detainees, other detention reform advocates, and attorneys, including one pro bono attorney who has represented 15 detained asylum seekers through Human Rights First’s pro bono asylum legal representation program over the course of many years. Two resolutions regarding immigration detention are currently before the Committee: Resolution 1029, which calls on the 112th Congress to pass the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act (H.R. 933), and Resolution 905, which urges the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate abuses of LGBTI detainees in its custody.