by the El Reportero’s wire services
The National Immigrant Justice Center urged the Department of Homeland Security on Friday not to hold in solitary confinement the nine immigration activists known as the DREAM 9.
The NIJC’s executive director, Mary Meg McCarthy, cited press accounts indicating that the young people were in solitary last week and that at least two of them are still in that situation.
“(S)olitary confinement should never be used to retaliate against individuals who speak out for their rights inside detention,” she said in a statement.
“If the government feels it cannot safely maintain custody of individuals who are demanding their rights but who pose no threat to the community or flight risk, then the humane solution is to release them from detention,” McCarthy said.
The activists entered the United States from Mexico on July 22 at the Port of Entry in Nogales and requested humanitarian parole as “DREAMers” – named after the proposed DREAM Act that would legalize undocumented youths who were brought to the country as children – who should never have been deported or forced to leave.
Some of them had been deported, others returned to Mexico voluntarily and three decided to go visit family members after being approved for Deferred Action, which provides a work permit and avoids deportation but does not authorize leaving the United States.
The group is waiting at Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center for a response to their request for political exile.
The DREAM 9 would have joined the 300 people who are kept in solitary confinement every day in the immigration detention system, the NIJC said.
“There is growing agreement by the medical and corrections establishment that solitary confinement is psychologically harmful, and the United Nations has called solitary confinement that extends beyond 14 days torture,” McCarthy said.