Immigration Injustice: What Can We Do? 

July 15, 2018

Sunday, June 24, Plymouth Immigration Ministry team welcomed Zach Carstensen, Director, Outreach and Engagement, for Office of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-district 7).

Carstensen took questions and offered suggestions on how we all can impact the immigration situation, especially to supporting incarcerated parents and reuniting children in our state who are separated from their families. He also shared that when parents and children are separated at the border, since the adults have committed a ‘felony,’ they are often bound to Federal Detention Centers, prisons operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, such as the one located at 2425 South 200th Street, SeaTac, WA.

Private detention centers, such as Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma (1623 East J Street, Tacoma, WA), privately owned and operated by the GEO Group on behalf of U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to Carstensen, private facilities are not required to provide the same federal standards.

Jayapal and Adam Smith (WA-district 9) are leading the effort for Bill HR 3923: Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017, ‘to provide standards for facilities at which aliens in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security are detained, and for other purposes.’

(https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr3923/text/ih)

According to Carstensen, Jayapal is also using larger bills, such as the bipartisan Senate version of the Farm Bill, to include language that pushes local issues. And, to address national issues, Jayapal is constantly convening with other representatives in closed dialogue sessions.

What can we do about immigration injustices? “Pray,” said Carstensen. “Keep praying, contact wardens of federal prisons (churches can apply for entry). Contact information for the SeaTac warden’s administrative assistant:

Shanna C. McCuiston

Warden's Secretary

Administrative Remedy Clerk

Ph. 206.870.5702

Fax 206.870.5717

Plymouth can offer a prayer service or visit with detained people. Most, if not all, of the detained people are non-English speakers. A translator is needed and would also need to be approved by the bureau of prisons.    

Carstensen suggested partnering with other faith communities such as Catholic Community Services (http://ccsww.org/) and The Church Council of Greater Seattle. (https://www.thechurchcouncil.org/). Pramila’s office can help, https://jayapal.house.gov/). Subscribe to her newsletter for updates. Contact ACLU, Faith Action Network (http://fanwa.org/2018/06/congressional-updates-immigration-and-family-separation/) and business organizations such as Downtown Seattle Association and let them hear your opinions.”

Plymouth Immigration Ministry Team also suggests donations to:

1)    Kids in Need of Defense (https://supportkind.org/). Plymouth member and attorney Janet Gwilym works with this organization and handles asylum cases for children sent to WA. Check out their website.

2)    Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (https://www.nwirp.org/). Their lawyers are interviewing adult asylum detainees at the SeaTac Federal Prison and Northwest Detention Center to begin to file their asylum claims.

Please join in local advocacy efforts such as the Saturday, June 30 Families Belong Together rally. Go to https://act.moveon.org/event/families-belong-together_attend1/search/ and find out more

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