Theirs is a story that needs to be told. Tens of thousands of immigrants are being arrested by local law enforcement agencies and now face detention or deportation. But their voices are not heard from behind detention walls. We want to change that.
We are launching a project to record these stories and post them on the web, adding detainee voices to a critical discussion about the use of local police to enforce federal immigration laws. The “Story Line” will be hosted on DeportationNation.org, where we will feature excerpts of calls and letters from participants in an interactive map. The website is part of a 2010 Soros Justice media fellowship that examines the impact of ICE-police “partnership” programs, such as Secure Communities and 287(g).
But first we must reach our “sources” in detention, and this is where you can play a critical role. We are asking you – or members of your organization – to share these questionnaires (in English & Spanish) with immigrants in jails or detention centers that you visit. Perhaps you can put us in contact with others who could share this questionnaire with detainees if you feature the project in a newsletter, email announcements or web posts.
Here’s what we’re asking:
- What is your name (or you can remain anonymous) and where are you calling from? Is this where you were arrested?
- Where are you originally from and when did you come to live in the United States?
- What was your life like before you were arrested?
- How were you first arrested by local police? What are the charges? Were they dropped? Did immigration agents ask police to put a “detainer” or “hold” on you to prevent your release?
- Do you feel police stopped you because of your ethnicity or any other unfair reasons?
- Were you transferred into federal immigration detention? If so, when? How long have you been detained because of your immigration status?
- What impact has this had on your life?
- Have you had access to legal assistance during your time in jail or detention? Please describe it.
- Describe the conditions of your jail or detention center. Please include any information you want to share about your living space, clothing, food, health care, visitation, or treatment by staff.
- What do you want the world to know about your situation.
This project is a variation on crowdsourcing – a key tool for accountability journalism that allows reports by individuals to contribute to a bigger picture view of a story that is impossible for us to piece together on our own. We know there will be kinks to work out as it is the first of its kind to reach out to contributors who are detained. We welcome your questions and suggestions, and please let us know if you are interested in participating.
Contact us via DeportationNation at gmail dot com, or (347) 903-5290/(202) 630-2226.
Click below to hear from a man ICE detained after he went to court to pay a fine for a minor trespassing violation.