Unequal Justice: Immigration Rights, Detention and Advocacy in Pierce County was hosted at in the Carwein Auditorium on Jan. 30, from 6–7 p.m., Six panelists spoke through­out the event, discussing detention centers practices, the renovation of policies regarding immigration en­forcement activities and shared per­sonal stories of their experience as ICE detainees. Chancellor Mark Pa­gano also joined and welcomed at­tendees at the event.

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy — di­rector and founder of the UW Center for Human Rights and associate pro­fessor of Law, Societies, and Justice, began with the mission the center for Human Rights has.

“Our mission is to carry out hands-on research to faculty and stu­dents collaborating together, but in particular collaboration with organi­zations on the front lines of human rights advocacy,” said Godoy.

At the event, each of the panelists took turns speaking. Ann Benson, a senior directing attorney at the Wash­ington Defender Association, spoke first. Benson focused on the contrasts of the past Barack Obama administra­tion, and President Donald Trump’s current administration, citing the Deferred Action for Parents of Amer­icans and Lawful Permanent Resi­dents as an example.

“[DAPA] was for undocumented people who had U.S. citizen or per­manent resident children,” Godoy said. “This [would have] extended the DACA protection to about 6 mil­lion people.”

Trump’s administration enforce­ment priorities have differed from Obama’s, with increased ICE Border Agents, who have the ability to issue deportation orders that have resulted in a rise of Detention Center contracts.

A report by the Fiscal Policy In­stitute shows an estimate of about 24 million people with 9 million chil­dren under the age of 18 have been affected by the Trump administration enforcement policies.

Steffany Duran, another panelist and a UW psychology graduate, shared what she does in the advo­cacy department at Tacoma Com­munity House, which includes pro­grams like housing and immigration support. All of the House advocates also speak more than one language due to the language barriers with some clients.

“We focus on providing [for] people who have been victims of crime such as domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other crimes,” said Duran.

Duran highlighted that there are thousands of immigrants and refu­gees currently detained in the North­west detention center who don’t have access to resources or family near who can support them.

The final panelists that spoke were Dimitry and Maria, a married couple from Ukraine and Russia. Upon ar­rival to the United States last year, they were immediately detained.

Dimitry explained the hardships he faced throughout his journey, which eventually led him and Maria, who was then pregnant, to apply for asylum in the U.S. Once they were refused asylum, the couple was led to deportation.

Click for larger image

While Dimitry was transferred to San Luis Arizona and then to the Northwest detention center following deportation, he was unaware of Ma­ria’s location — Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego.

“I wrote multiple requests to ICE [saying] ‘where is my wife?’” Dimi­try said. “And they never answered.” he said.

Maria was also frustrated with ICE officers and their attitude to­wards detainees, such as when she met with her own ICE officer on the first day of her release from the deten­tion center.

“ICE treats people like [in a] in­humane degraded attitude,” Dimitry said. “They just don’t listen, they don’t care.”

Amid the mistreatment of deten­tion centers and ICE,, there are com­munity based organizations willing to help, including Advocates for Im­migrants in Detention Northwest.

According to their website, the organization are “waiting to welcome released immigrants,” They also have an RV outside the Northwest Deten­tion Center, which offers backpacks full of snacks, toiletries, clothes as well as free phone calls, arranged transportation and housing.

“It restores a lot of the humanity that is often lost in the detention cen­ters,” said Rachel Hershberg, UWT assistant professor in the Social, Be­havioral, and Human Sciences.

PHOTO BY SARAH SMITH
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