Local Leaders Join Vera's SAFE Network in Calls for Release of All People in ICE Detention

As conveners of Vera Institute of Justice’s SAFE Network, we are proud to partner with 18 jurisdictions that are moving forward sensible, humane, and dignified measures that protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable members of our society, including funding programs that ensure legal representation for their immigrant community members in ICE detention.

Today, as cases of COVID-19 are reported in detention centers across the country, immigration detention may quickly become a death sentence for many. Local deportation defense programs, like those advanced through the SAFE Network, are critical to securing release for immigrants in detention and are needed more than ever. We come together in this moment, as a network, to call for all immigration enforcement action to be halted and for everyone in ICE custody to be released, immediately prioritizing those who are particularly vulnerable.

Conditions in detention create high risk for rapid spread of the virus. On top of the risk of permanent family separation and the forced return to dangerous conditions in another country, our communities’ immigrants are acutely facing the rising public health risk because of the continuation of irresponsible federal immigration enforcement. As more people are needlessly brought into detention, the threat to immigrants, staff, and communities only compounds, deepening the crisis. The stakes for detained immigrants are higher than ever.

The health and lives of all our community members are at stake. We know that we are all stronger, safer and healthier when we come together in moments of crisis in support of the most vulnerable among us.

Endorsed by

Mayor Steve Adler, Austin, TX

Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland, CA

Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento, CA

County Board of Commissioners, Ramsey County, MN

Councilmember Gregorio Casar, Austin, TX

Supervisor Richard Valle, Alameda County, CA

Councilmember Deni Taveras, Prince George’s County, MD

Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, Columbus, OH

Mary Elizabeth Cedillo-Pereira, Chief of Equity & Inclusion, Dallas, TX

Statements of Support

“It is a matter of basic human rights that we uphold the welfare of incarcerated people. No matter why a resident is behind bars, governments cannot escape the responsibility that their custodial role confers upon them. It bears repeating that due to this country’s history of racist incarceration practices, the consequences of high infection rates inside Ohio’s jails, prisons, and ICE detention facilities will disproportionately harm African Americans, Latinx people, and immigrants.

COVID-19 has already catalyzed action at all levels of government, but we must do more to release as many people as possible, including all people detained on civil immigration charges, many of whom are our Columbus residents. For those still incarcerated, the government is their custodian and must ensure proper social distancing, free and accessible hygiene supplies, and robust medical care.” - Councilmember Elizabeth Brown, Columbus, OH

“The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners supports the release of those in custody, especially individuals with underlying medical conditions, back to their families and communities while their removal cases are active. The Minnesota Department of Corrections and Ramsey County has taken action to reduce our population in jails and correctional institutions to help prevent the spread of the virus in these high-density facilities.

Taking necessary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during a world-wide pandemic and public health crisis, regardless of immigration status, is the humane and practical thing to do. We ask you to take immediate action in solidarity with local agencies to reduce the population size of ICE detention facilities as a critical step in mitigating the rise in confirmed Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and life lost nationwide.” - County Board of Commissioners, Ramsey County, MN

"As a proud member of the SAFE network, Denver has implemented significant steps to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 in an effort to keep those in our custody safe during this health crisis. We strongly encourage other local, state, and federal agencies operating jails or detention facilities to take similar swift actions to help in mitigating the spread of COVID 19." - Mayor Michael B. Hancock, City and County of Denver

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