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Women’s Refugee Commission calls for end to harsh ‘alternatives’ to detention

Washington, D.C. — Following recent reports that the Biden administration is seeking to develop a home confinement and curfew pilot program for immigrants, Katharina Obser, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the following statement:

“The Biden administration promised a more humane approach to immigration, and any such reform must include phasing out immigration detention. The Women’s Refugee Commission is deeply alarmed that the number of people detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities has only increased since the president took office, while at the same time access to asylum, including at ports of entry, remains out of reach for many seeking protection at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“While WRC would welcome efforts that would meaningfully reduce the use of detention, we have serious questions about this pilot program, and concerns that it will not reduce or end the jailing of immigrants and will only expand inappropriate and invasive surveillance. ICE’s alternatives to detention have long failed to reduce the use of detention or adopt best practices for supporting people with the immigration process. Rather than criminalizing and punishing immigrants while limiting their access to community support, the administration should seek to end harsh detention ‘alternatives’ that expand surveillance, and instead invest in appropriate, evidence-based community-based support services that ensure access to counsel.

“WRC has long documented the importance of and advocated for appropriate community-based support services by experienced community providers that help those who may need it navigate the asylum or immigration process. The administration must follow through on its commitments to end reliance on costly and inhumane for-profit private prisons, without expanding other forms of surveillance.”