Thursday, 18 February 2016 10:06

Questions for Tonight's Debate

For Immediate Release
February 18, 2016
Contact: SG Sarmiento, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Questions for Tonight's Debate

As the Democratic candidates meet once again to debate in Nevada, they have only begun to clarify their positions on key immigration policies. Below, are some questions that should be raised tonight and answered by Senator Sanders and former Secretary of State Clinton. After nearly 3 million deportations under a Democratic administration, it's not clear that the party establishment even recognizes that its approach to immigrant and refugee rights is failing.

1) Deferred action for immigrant workers:

Legalization for 11 million people, with a path to citizenship, is one goal of the immigrant rights movement, and there is much that the executive branch could do to incrementally advance inclusion of this population. Republicans in the last debate spoke of a new guest worker program, but the AFL-CIO has made clear that past and prospective guest worker programs would be "akin to slavery." With federal legislation blocked in a dysfunctional Congress for the foreseeable future, what steps would you take to advance the inclusion of undocumented workers in the US? Would you support protections and an administrative deferred action program for all undocumented immigrant workers?

2) Truth about the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP-COMM):

On February 11, Senator Sanders and Rep. Grijalva sent a letter criticizing the Department of Homeland Security's new deportation program, the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). The letter suggested that the new program is a mere re-branding of the disgraced Secure Communities "S-COMM" jail-based deportation dragnet, which gave rise to Arizona's SB1070. While ICE is facing two federal lawsuits for refusing to come clean about PEP, DHS and ICE leadership continue a national offensive to place ICE in jails, entangling our unjust immigration laws in the morass of mass incarceration. What would you do untangle ICE's role in local law enforcement? Given the national consensus about the need for criminal justice reform, what would you do to address the conflation of civil immigration enforcement regime with local criminal law-enforcement?

3) Raids on refugees:

Over 140 members of Congress have rejected the recent raids again Central American refugee mothers and children. The raids, at the beginning of an election year, demonstrate that the deportation regime has not disappeared and can be accelerated at any time, for any political motivation. In this case, the White House has claimed that its raid strategy is necessary to deter families from fleeing the violence and Central America. Do you believe immigration enforcement should be used to as a deterrent, particularly toward refugees? Would you support giving Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to those fleeing violence from Central American countries?

4) Fight for 15:

Across the country, there is momentum to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour as part of a growing movement to confront income inequality. A problem though is that many existing labor protections, including the status quo minimum wage, often lie outside of the reach of immigrant workers. What is your plan to ensure that immigrant workers will have access to new minimum wage protections? What will be your plan to ensure that all workers, including immigrants, have access to existing labor protections?


Published in Press Releases

For Immediate Release
January 21, 2016

John Legend and Juanes Join Call to Overhaul Immigrant Detention as Part of Campaign to End Mass Incarceration

National #FREEAMERICA Tour Sees The Two Multiple Grammy Winning Artists
Spotlighting The Link Between Needed Immigration and Mass Incarceration Reforms

Juanes And John Legend Visit The Notorious Eloy Detention Center, Tent City, and Puente Arizona Community Center - With Pop-Up Performances For Both Detainees And Their Separated Families

Watch Video Of "REDEMPTION SONG" Performed Outside Eloy Detention Center

"John Legend, Juanes Perform Outside Of Immigration Detention Center In Arizona"
-- Huff Post/AP

"Juanes and John Legend held a concert in the most unlikely of places today — deep in the Arizona desert, in front of the Eloy Immigration Detention Center, where an estimated 1,500 immigrants are currently being held... The goal of the concert: bring light to our country's misguided immigration policies, and transform America's criminal justice system"
-- Fusion

Phoenix, AZ---As recent raids and a pending Supreme Court case push the issue of immigration into the national spotlight once again, Grammy Award winning artists John Legend and Juanes travelled to Arizona, in many ways the epicenter of the fight for migrant rights, to explore the issue. Yesterday, the two multiple-Grammy winning artists visited with people in detention and heard from local families impacted by immigration enforcement, to bring a cultural component to the campaigns to end detention, put a face to those caught in the system, and link it together with the efforts to end mass incarceration.

This marked the first stop on Legend's listening tour to address immigration issues as part of the #FREEAMERICA campaign - in which the artist is visiting with people who are or have been incarcerated, law enforcement, legislators, prosecutors, union members, crime victims, and experts who've been thinking critically about America's prison problem.

In Arizona, Legend and Juanes met with detainees inside the Eloy Detention Center, a privately-run facility similar to those that house approximately 34,000 immigrants each day, and one that most recently made news for the suspicious and still insufficiently investigated death of detainee Jose de Jesus Sahagun this past Spring. Inside, they got a glimpse of the conditions that thousands of immigrant families face every day in detention centers across America.

Having been denied permission to perform inside the facility for detainees, as has happened on previous #FREEAMERICA visits, the pair of artists then proceeded to a makeshift flatbed truck stage outside the facility, with a sound system directed back toward the detention center, to still bring a period of musical encouragement to the detainees within. This performance was inspired by previous similar editions of the "Chant Down The Walls" series created by another partner on the day - the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

From there the artists returned to Phoenix, where they next witnessed Tent City, the twenty plus year old outdoor jail run by Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio who himself is on trial for civil rights violations and abuses. To conclude the day's activity, John Legend and Juanes then proceeded to the Puente Arizona, where they met with former detainees, and the families of current detainees (in both Eloy and 'Tent City'), who are fighting for the release of their loved ones. Following the deeply emotional meeting, the pair of artists took to another stage erected at the community center, to also perform for the gathering - just as they had for their detained family members hours before.

Referring to the trip, John Legend explained, "These people are treated as criminals, but their crime is that of coming to America in pursuit of the American Dream. Many have fled desperate situations in their home countries where they fear for their lives. They long to be reunited with their families and given the opportunity to live and work without fear. Surely this country of immigrants can figure out a smarter, more humane way to accommodate those who want to come here."

Echoing that same hope for reform, Juanes added: "I am very grateful to John for the invitation to join him on his Listen & Learn tour to visit the immigrant detention center, as well as meet with former detainees and the families of those inside. It helped me connect real faces to a topic that should be a concern to all of us in a nation of immigrants. We must create a greater awareness about the human beings affected and the need for a more just immigration process."

For John Legend & #FREEAMERICA: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
For Juanes: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Published in Press Releases

For Immediate Release

July 13, 2015

Contacts: Olga Tomchin, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 402.650.2339 // Christina Fialho (for interviews with Carlos Hidalgo), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 385.212.4842

“Free Adelanto 4” Announces Successful Release of Carlos Hidalgo, Pledges Continued Fight Against Detention of People with Disabilities & Vulnerable Groups

Campaign Continues for Vulnerable Individuals Still Detained at Adelanto, Calls to Prevent Transfer of Transgender Women 

Santa Ana, CA—One week after the launch of the campaign, Adelanto 4 member and human rights advocate Carlos Hidalgo (A#092-952-155) was released from the Theo Lacy detention center in Orange County, CA where he had been transferred by ICE as retaliation for his advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities and asylum seekers detained at the for-profit Adelanto detention center. 

Mr. Hidalgo, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was targeted for helping people file grievances for medical abuse and alerting them of their rights. In response, ICE threw him into solitary confinement for over 3 days and then transferred him to a different detention facility because “GEO Group doesn’t want you here.” 

On three occasions and under increasingly mysterious circumstances, ICE prevented Mr. Hidalgo from having a court hearing, resulting in him missing his U.S. citizen daughter Lovette’s high school graduation. Today, Carlos has been reunited with her, his other two U.S. citizen children, and his parents and grandchild. He can now also continue receiving treatment for his multiple sclerosis.

Upon his release, Carlos Hidalgo made the following statement: 

“Thank you to everyone who signed the Adelanto 4 petition and to all who are supporting our cause. Because of you, I am now reunited with my beloved family! I've been given the chance to continue this fight from the outside and help all those who are still in detention. I have the moral obligation to help those still in need that are living under this unjust deportation and immigration detention system that is affecting so many of us immigrants. With your help, I promise to continue this fight to the end immigration detention and help all of my brothers and sisters who are still being detained.

“Regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, we are all human beings who deserve to be able to pursue happiness and live our dreams. The tears of the detained must not be in vain. For-profit prison companies such as GEO Group need to be held accountable for their actions and must not be allowed to abuse people with disabilities and transgender people. I personally witnessed the total lack of proper medical care for those with mental health issues and dialysis patients. Let's keep up the fight and be heard with dignity and respect!”

The “Free Adelanto 4” campaign continues for the remaining Adelanto 3 and others with disabilities and asylum seekers and has called on ICE to stop the transfer of transgender women to the abusive facility

Undocumented trans woman activist Jennicet Gutiérrez who made headlines recently for demanding to President Obama that he stop the abuse of trans women by ICE added, 


“Trans women in detention centers should not be transferred to Adelanto because the abuse won't stop with the transfer. Adelanto is a remote location where it would be more difficult for our sisters to get our support and legal representation.” 

GEO Group, the infamous for-profit prison company which runs Adelanto, is currently being sued by current and former detained immigrants for violating the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges that GEO is subjecting immigrant detainees to forced labor under threat of solitary confinement, which is recognized as torture by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Additionally, the Free Adelanto campaign has launched a fundraiser for the bond of Adelanto 4 member Victor Calderon (A# 206-412-111). He is a 32 year old father of three U.S. citizen children and the son and caretaker of a disabled green card holder mother. Victor has lived in the United States since he was 6.

The petition for the remaining Adelanto 3 can be found here:


Published in Press Releases