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USA: New campaign to “Restore Fairness” to deportation proceedings

Restore Fairness logo

A new online campaign asks lawmakers to “Restore Fairness” to deportation proceedings of immigrants in the United States suspected of being undocumented or in violation of the terms of their visas. Thousands of people are currently incarcerated in detention centers and jails and denied court hearings across the country.

The campaign created by the human rights organization Breakthrough, documents the lives of numerous individuals who have encountered grave injustices in detention centers or in dealing with immigration authorities through a series of videos.

From the About page on Restore Fairness:

“The Restore Fairness campaign is calling on the U.S. government to restore due process and fairness to our immigration system. Since the Declaration of Independence, America has striven to uphold fairness and due process. But today, a broken immigration system denies basic human rights and due process to people who live here. In the aftermath of 9-11, immigrants have borne the brunt of harsh policies, with the U.S. government allowing raids and arrests without warrants, holding thousands in inhumane detention conditions, and deporting people without a fair trial.”

The Restore Fairness campaign encourages Americans to ask their local representatives to help win every individual a “fair day in court”; create legally enforceable detention standards and implement cost effective alternatives to detention; and stop indiscriminate raids and the continued use of local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law.

They are also asking immigrants who feel their human rights have been violated  to share their stories.

Moving images

At the heart of the campaign is a 9-minute documentary created with the assistance of 26 partner organizations. There is also a blog, a Twitter feed, resources for further study of the issue, and videos of several more people who have been wronged.

One story shared was that of Juana Villegas. She was arrested while pregnant and was forced to have her baby while a sheriff stood in her hospital room:

She was taken in for a routine traffic violation that is normally taken care of by a simple citation. This violation (of which she was later cleared) was handled by immigration authorized local police and she was locked up in a jail in her state. Taken to the hospital in chains, she went through labor with a sheriff’s officer standing guard in her hospital room, where one of her feet was cuffed to the bed most of the time.

Juana Villegas: A Pregnant Woman Detained from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

June Everett shared a story too. Not her own story, but that of her sister’s who died while in detainment.

Sandra Kenley, a 52-year-old grandmother, who after living in the U.S. legally for 33 years, was subjected to degrading and grossly inhumane conditions, which led to her untimely death.

Sandra Kenly: Death by Detention from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

Ali also suffered in immigration detention. Born in Pakistan, Ali arrived in New York City to live freely as a gay man. When he was detained though for year, he wasn’t given the medicine he needed as an HIV positive resident.

He says, “There’s no benefit for HIV+ or AIDS people. If you die in your room they don’t care.”

Ali: An HIV+ Man Suffers in Detention from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

The stories of Villegas, Kenley and Ali are sadly not unique. Breakthrough have highlighted the stories of many more people living in the United States. In hopes that the immigration system could be reformed, they encourage viewers to take action:

With your help, we can mobilize members of organizations, groups and individuals to demand that our government uphold the human rights of all people within the immigration system. We need you to take action now. Together, we can stand up for American values of due process and fairness.

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