Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Men sit in the sun in the health ward at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego. (Gregory Bull/AP)
Giovannie, currently detained in Golden State Annex, shares his reflections and concerns around immigration detention.
Why Should Immigration Detention Be Closed?
Detention facilities should be closed since they are being used by private companies to make money at the expense of ordinary people who have the right to be free. Regardless of our court situation, the time being spent incarcerated is depriving one from family connections and is painful. It would be better to be given the opportunity to be with family members until our court date so to speak.
People who have signed removal orders should be sent to their country of origin instead of being detained for months after signing to be removed from the United States. I think with absolute belief that we have a right to be free from places such as these detention facilities.
Just think about it for a moment! Serving over 2 decades in state prison and finding one’s self being detained in private run facilities for profit upon completing your term. It’s wrong and inhumane to speak of.
Also don’t forget the pain and turmoil the family members have to deal with and yet family members have to work and pay bills. It is just ridiculous and unethically inhumane to have to be imprisoned by private run facilities.
COVID-19 and Detention Centers
During the pandemic of COVID-19, this detention facility should have never been able to open due to the risk it presents to human health. This place wasn’t and isn’t equipped to house people during a pandemic since practicing social distance is not possible.
There are bars on the windows, the ceiling is not painted, nor are the walls. Detainees are moved from one pod to the next whilst the pod they were previously in is being painted. Detainees arrive during the day and during the night, the number of detainees being housed in a pod reaches up to 27 to what I have seen. Not to mention, before I got here there were like 42-45 being housed in a single pod. Most detainees speak Spanish and sometimes the phone pin isn’t working to speak with pro bono attorneys. It was difficult for some people being removed just like that without representation. The computers are not in Spanish so it’s hard for them to get help and some staff members are not equipped for the task.
The facility is also not equipped to practice the hygienic procedures. The dining hall has 3 pods in one section and at least another pod in another section. How is containment being controlled? Should we, the detainees, be at risk for the profit of these private run facilities? We stand a great risk from staff being out and venturing into work.
No proper testing has been done to check if anyone is carrying the virus. Using a temperature gun to check one’s temperature just isn’t enough to test and make sure that we are free from the virus while being detained here.
The facility is not safe to house us. The drainage from the sink is smelly, mold is building up. Officers spray and don’t wipe. There are cameras in the pods, one in the restroom and another at the top of the room (day room). Detainees have no privacy. We are mentally and emotionally deprived.
These are some reasons why I think immigration detention should be closed.