Fighting for Immigrant Rights During COVID-19

  • Posted by Tyana Smith
  • On May 28, 2020
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“There is nothing more powerful than the collective voice of our community to drive change.”
Christina Fialho, Co-founder & Executive Director of Freedom For Immigrants

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the world in ways that are still unfolding. But this virus doesn’t strike equally. People detained in immigrant prisons, who were systematically denied basic human rights before this crisis began, are still denied the right to follow public health advice to keep themselves and their families safe. The health of individuals in immigrant prisons is flagrantly disregarded in overpopulated prisons whose numbers are still growing. Detained immigrants are shuffled around the country with little regard for shelter-in-place policies, and those who have been potentially exposed to the virus are forced to stay together in cramped quarters with others who have been exposed—without access to masks, gloves or consistent access to handwashing facilities. 

Freeing immigrants from these conditions is a public health emergency.

This letter from 247 individuals detained in Broward Transitional Center (BTC), a crowded ICE prison in Pompano Beach, Florida paints a grim picture. On March 17, individuals were forced to protest for water after an outage left them without drinking water, toilet use, and running water for five hours. 

We have a lot of flu-like symptoms going around and we are getting frightened and worried that if any of us gets infected with the coronavirus it will start an epidemic on its own seeing that we are in a very confined space.

At the regular lockdown hour at 18:30, we were instructed to go back to our rooms with feces in most of the toilets. When the security was notified about the unsanitary situations we were told to proceed to the rooms and turn on the toilet vents in order to vacate the disturbing smell and spread of germs and bacteria. We should not have to protest for a right to have running water in a time of a pandemic when it is of utmost importance that we maintain the highest level of sanitation possible.

Letter from 247 immigrants detained in a Florida ICE prison

During times of crisis, it’s even more critical to uphold our values and stand up for those who are denied the right to stand up for themselves. Join our fight for immigrant rights by joining the Freedom100 Circle, a one-year commitment where members engage with Freedom for Immigrants and Mission Driven Finance to launch and grow our Freedom100 Bond Fund, while educating the public about the U.S. immigration detention system and community-based alternatives to detention.

Join forward-thinking leaders like Freedom100 founding member Mark Knight, who saw the massive abuses and injustices occurring at immigrant prisons and felt compelled to act.

Becoming a contributor to the Freedom100 Circle of Champions is an excellent way, for those who have the resources, to ensure that community-based alternatives to detention have the opportunity to work. Contributors who are looking not only to make badly needed financial contributions but also to apply their background and skills to help broaden this network of helpers and provide strategic advice to Freedom for Immigrants leadership can do no better than to join Freedom100. For me, it’s the best way I can make a difference and become part of the change that is needed right now.

Mark Knight, Freedom100 founding member

Join with your donation, your time, your expertise, and your voice. Most importantly, join our community to make history with us and fight for immigrant rights.

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