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Women's Refugee Commission Welcomes New Handbook on Alternatives to Immigrant Detention


May 18, 2011—The vast majority of immigrants who come to the United States seeking asylum have no violent criminal history, but many—including women, families and unaccompanied children—end up in detention facilities where their basic rights are denied. On any given day, more than 30,000 immigrants are held in detention in the U.S.

“Immigration detention is extremely expensive (more than $100 per day per detainee), is not effective at deterring irregular migrants and is known to harm the health and well-being of detainees,” said Michelle Brané, director of the Women's Refugee Commission’s detention and asylum program. “There are both more cost-effective and humane ways to treat immigrants while ensuring that they also meet court appearances and other requirements.”

The Women's Refugee Commission welcomes the release today of “There Are Alternatives: A handbook for preventing unnecessary immigration detention.” The handbook, produced by the International Detention Coalition (IDC), identifies good practices from around the world, and introduces the Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model. This model identifies mechanisms currently in use that enforce immigration law without a heavy reliance on detention, highlights effective management in the community and assists governments make informed decisions on appropriate placement and management. The handbook follows two years of international research into alternatives to detention conducted by La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) and IDC. Michelle Brané is on the International Advisory Committee of the IDC.

“Case management and vulnerability checks have been found to assist governments in preventing unnecessary immigration detention and to ensure compliance in the community,” said Grant Mitchell, IDC Director. “The handbook is an invitation for governments to review their immigration management policies.”

The full report, as well as an introduction for policy makers, is available at http://idcoalition.org/cap-launch/.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Michelle Brané or Grant Mitchell, contact Michelle Brané (English, Spanish):             +1-646.717.7191        or MichelleB@wrcommission.org