Portraits of Atlanta Immigrants

July 09, 2014

Creative Loafing interviews ACLU of Georgia's Azadeh Shahshahani about her immigrant experience

9 men and women share their voices, their stories

Thomas Wheatley, Creative Loafing

Forty-four years ago, your chances of hearing a foreign accent in Georgia were slim. At the time, less than 1 percent of the state's population had been born abroad. But in the decades since, Georgia, once shackled by segregation, has become one of the more diverse states in the union. In 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, nearly 10 percent of the state's population was born in another country.

Much of that growth has been centered in metro Atlanta. Last year, the Atlanta Regional Commission estimated that approximately 14 percent of the 20-county region's population was foreign-born. Among the 20 other most populous metros across the country, the metro Atlanta region ranked 14th. But when researchers measure its change in growth over the 2000s, the region lays claim to the second-fastest growing foreign-born population, lagging only Baltimore. In some counties, such as Clayton, foreign-born men, women, and children fueled the majority of the population growth during the booming 2000s.

Georgia Immigrant Detainees ‘Riot’ Over Maggot-Filled Food

June 26, 2014

More than two dozen detainees at a notorious immigration detention center in Georgia staged a hunger strike and protest last week over inedible food, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called the protest at Stewart Detention Center a “riot” that required that detainees be “segregated for disciplinary purposes,” according to the AJC.

The ACLU and Georgia Detention Watch filed a complaint raising alarm about a hunger strike that detainees began on or around June 12, during which hundreds of detainees threw their food away. Detainees have complained that their food is often filled with maggots, or that the same water used to boil eggs is reused to brew coffee. Detainees who work in food preparation have also complained of a roach infestation in the facility’s kitchen. Detainees were frequently served rotten food.

Worsened Conditions at Stewart Led to Hunger Strike Last Week

June 19, 2014

ACLU of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch Reiterate Calls for
Closure of Facility

The ACLU Foundation of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch express grave concern about news of a hunger strike at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia last week. Discontent has long been brewing over the poor quality of the food, desperately inadequate medical care, and unlivable conditions. A group of detained immigrants decided to organize together in protest. According to multiple reports, instead of addressing the complaints, guards placed hunger strikers and the entire unit on lock-down. The ACLU of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch call for transparency from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and reiterate their previous calls for closure of this corporate-run facility.

Georgia Has Little-Known For-Profit Prisons for Immigrants; ACLU Investigation of Such Prisons Reveals Abuse, Inhumane Conditions

June 10, 2014

Report Shows Federal Bureau of Prisons Incentivizes Mistreatment, Shields Immigrant Prisons from Scrutiny

McRae Correctional and D. Ray James Correctional facilities in McRae and Folkston, Georgia are two of the 13 little-known CAR (Criminal Alien Requirement) prisons for immigrants in the United States. For the new report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison Industry, the ACLU and the ACLU of Texas have investigated CAR prisons in Texas run by Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, the same private prison companies that operate McRae and D. Ray James. The report reveals inhumane conditions and egregious mistreatment of immigrants in prisons that enrich the for-profit prison industry at tremendous costs to taxpayers.

“The report findings are consistent with what we have documented in Georgia. CCA at McRae and the GEO Group at D. Ray James have a record of violations of constitutional and Bureau of Prisons standards governing the medical treatment of prisoners,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.

In August 2011, the ACLU of Georgia submitted comments to the Bureau of Prisons asking that the agency not renew its contract for operation of McRae. The ACLU of Georgia has also submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Bureau of Prisons regarding treatment of prisoners at D. Ray James. The comments and the FOIA request are available upon request.

The culmination of a four-year investigation, the ACLU report on facilities in Texas shows how the federal Bureau of Prisons incentivizes private prison companies to keep CAR prisons overcrowded and understaffed. The companies provide scant medical care that is often administered incorrectly, if delivered at all.

As Carl Takei, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, explained, “The shameful conditions inside CAR prisons come from the government’s decision to allow the suffering inside these for-profit prisons. For instance, 10% of the bed space in CAR prisons is reserved for extreme isolation—nearly double the rate in normal federal prisons. I spoke to prisoners who spent weeks in isolation cells after being sent there upon intake—simply arriving at prison was the reason why they were locked in a cell and fed through a slot for 23 hours a day.”

CAR prisons hold non-citizens who have been convicted of crimes in the U.S., mostly for immigration offenses (such as unlawfully reentering the country).

Read the report: www.aclu.org/CARabuse.

Press Release

The ACLU of Georgia Joins the GeorgiaNot1More Campaign

June 05, 2014

The ACLU of Georgia today joined GLAHR, NDLON, and more than a dozen other organizations in calling on the Sheriff of DeKalb County to not prolong individuals’ detention based on ICE detainers. Federal courts have found that the detainer serves as a mere request and does not constitute probable cause for a separate arrest. The ACLU of Georgia and other organizations reminded Sheriff Mann and other Georgia sheriffs about the legal liabilities they could face if they continue to illegally hold individuals on the sole basis of ICE detainers. Click here to find the letter signed by the ACLU of Georgia, GLAHR, and NDLON addressed to Sheriff Mann.

Using Jailed Migrants as a Pool of Cheap Labor

May 28, 2014

By IAN URBINA
May 24, 2014
New York Times

The kitchen of the detention center here was bustling as a dozen immigrants boiled beans and grilled hot dogs, preparing lunch for about 900 other detainees. Elsewhere, guards stood sentry and managers took head counts, but the detainees were doing most of the work — mopping bathroom stalls, folding linens, stocking commissary shelves.

As the federal government cracks down on immigrants in the country illegally and forbids businesses to hire them, it is relying on tens of thousands of those immigrants each year to provide essential labor — usually for $1 a day or less — at the detention centers where they are held when caught by the authorities.

UNDOCUNATION

May 28, 2014

A Cultural Celebration With Artists for Migrant Justice

On Friday May 30th, Grammy winning & nominated musicians, visual artists, performers, and community members will host the 5th UndocuNation. This traveling arts and music festival and workshop series uplifts migrant stories and speaks out against unjust immigration laws that separate families and discriminate against LGBTQ communities and people of color.

PRISIONEROS DEL ICE

April 14, 2014

Check it out! A powerful video by Mundo Hispánico's Mario Guevara on detention conditions in Georgia and our request for a Congressional investigation.

Watch the video here
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=669930083074449

Mi más reciente reportaje sobre la situación de los detenidos en la cárcel de Inmigración de Stewart. Compártelo!!!

My most recent report on the situation of the detainees in the prison of immigration of Stewart. Share it!

— with Mario Guevara, Dan Ortiz, Azadeh N. Shahshahani, Mario Alexander Guevara and Galeria de Periodistas.

Inside America's $2bn immigrant detention industry

April 03, 2014

Franz Strasser
The BBC Franz Strasser

Under President Barack Obama, the US has deported almost two million undocumented immigrants, more than any of his predecessors.

Before being kicked out of the US, most of these people will spend time locked up in a detention centre. Some have criminal convictions, but the majority are detained on immigration charges.

Former mayor of Uvalda, Ga., to receive JFK ‘Profile in Courage’ award

March 28, 2014

Many congrats to Mayor Paul Bridges who joined our lawsuit against Georgia's anti-immigrant law for this well-deserved recognition!

By Jim Galloway
www.ajc.com

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced the two recipients of its annual Profile in Courage awards this afternoon.

One is well known – former President George H.W. Bush, who will be honored for breaking his no-new-taxes pledge to cement a bipartisan budget deal in 1990 and put his re-election chances in jeopardy. President Bill Clinton was the result.

But the bigger surprise is Paul Bridges, the former mayor of Uvalda, Ga., population 592 – give or take a few souls.


The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced the two recipients of its annual Profile in Courage awards this afternoon.

One is well known – former President George H.W. Bush, who will be honored for breaking his no-new-taxes pledge to cement a bipartisan budget deal in 1990 and put his re-election chances in jeopardy. President Bill Clinton was the result.

But the bigger surprise is Paul Bridges, the former mayor of Uvalda, Ga., population 592 – give or take a few souls.