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‘Long Overdue’: Visitation at Immigration Detention Facilities Finally Restored

Following reversal of Trump-era policy, advocates vow to continue fight for full abolition of detention


May 11, 2022

Media contact:

Jeff Migliozzi, Freedom for Immigrants, jmigliozzi[@]

Laura Duarte Bateman, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, laura[@]

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced the reinstatement of social visitation at detention facilities, following pressure from a national advocacy campaign led by a coalition of immigrants in detention, local detention visitation groups and immigrant rights organizations across the immigration detention abolition movement.

Visitation to ICE detention facilities was initially revoked in March of 2020, exacerbating many of the traumatizing effects of immigration detention, including prolonged isolation, severe mental health harms and family separation. Denial of visitation also blocked local detention visitation groups’ in-person monitoring of human rights abuses in detention. Although visitation at federal prisons was restored in October of 2020, the Biden administration maintained the inhumane policy for more than a year into its term.

In the weeks ahead, the campaign to reinstate visitation will closely monitor ICE field offices’ and individual detention facilities’ compliance with the updated guidance to ensure consistent and unrestricted access to visitation at detention facilities. By Wednesday afternoon, advocates had already reported that officials at several detention centers informed advocates that they had not received the new guidance from ICE and had yet to reinstate visitation.

“The realization that I will be able to hug my daughter brings me so much joy,” said Fidel Garcia, who is currently detained at Golden State Annex in McFarland, California. “By the time I was detained by ICE on July 12, 2021, prisons had already been allowing visits for over a year, further demonstrating that ICE always had the authority to allow visits, but chose not to until today. I’m happy for other people impacted by this as well. Receiving visits will alleviate the emotional harm we suffer here and will motivate us to continue to fight our cases in this horrible facility.”

"The reinstatement of visitation is a positive step forward and a testament to the collective strength of our communities that pushed for this change, both inside and outside of detention," said Andrea Carcamo, policy director with Freedom for Immigrants. "While we are pleased the administration finally took this step, we recognize that this guidance is long overdue. Our communities should not have had to fight tooth and nail to end this harmful policy that could have just as easily been reversed a year ago. Immigration detention is inherently abusive and inhumane, and we will continue to work to abolish this system in its entirety. Community visitation remains a critical tool on the path to abolition as it allows us to document abuse, foster connection and community with people inside detention, and ultimately build a world where all people can live in freedom and dignity.”

Learn more about the campaign to #ReinstateVisitation here.


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