Magazine article National NOW Times

NOW Foundation Examines Prison-Like Detention Centers

Magazine article National NOW Times

NOW Foundation Examines Prison-Like Detention Centers

Article excerpt

Over the summer, I visited the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is holding about 140 women on illegal immigration charges. Most come from Latin America, although there are some from Viet Nam, Cambodia and the Caribbean Islands.

I was able to get into the center through the good efforts of Helen Rivas, a resident of Birmingham, Ala., who works with the immigrant community and who has Guatemalan Consular support. My interest in visiting the facility was to hear first hand how these women came to be detained and sent to this particular facility, and whether they were taken as a result of ICE workplace raids that have separated mothers from their frightened children and spread terror through entire communities. I also wanted to see the conditions in the center, the treatment by the authorities and the prospects for their release and/or deportation.

Upon arriving at the center, I was taken to a room to meet nine Guatemalan women who were incarcerated. I talked with four of the women separately, as they had requested a private meeting to discuss their specific situations. In most cases, these women had been taken as a result of ICE workplace raids, but also for traffic violations and in one sad case through police intervention in a domestic abuse situation.

The Etowah Center is not listed in ICE's information site as an official detention/deportation center. …

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