The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that all people must be accorded the right to freedom from arbitrary detention. The U.S. Constitution guarantees all people, documented and undocumented, the right to due process under the law. Yet neither of those protections are afforded to many migrants who arrive in the U.S., fleeing for their lives and seeking political asylum, only to be arrested and held for months and even years in detention centers that are basically prisons. The detention centers are often geographically remote, making it difficult if not impossible for detained people to secure legal assistance. The situation has been exacerbated in recent years due to the increasingly draconian and punitive policies advanced by the Trump administration. While immigration detention is officially considered an administrative rather than a punitive procedure, in fact, many people are detained without the possibility of release on bond. Despite lawsuits contesting this no-bond policy, in 2018, the Supreme Court decided in Jennings v. Rodriguez that the federal government is not required to give detained non-citizens a bond hearing after six months of detention. Without such hearings, non-citizens in deportation proceedings face a slim to nonexistent chance of release before the resolution of their cases.
For these reasons, Justice for Migrant Families/Cornell is raising money for the commissary accounts of people in prolonged detention at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia, NY. With these funds, they can make phone calls to lawyers and loved ones, engage in video chats with family and friends, and buy basic necessities such as food, batteries, socks, drawing paper, and toiletries. None of these items can be mailed to people in detention; they are only allowed to receive letters and books. This Campaign is supporting real people who are detained or have been deported.