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Homework from session 3 of Changing Systems, Changing Ourselves

As we have discussed, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting people who are incarcerated, in addition to the violence already enacted in prisons under normal circumstances. For homework, we’re asking you to take some practical steps to put pressure on elected officials to release those in ICE custody.

In their #FreeThemAllToolkit, Detention Watch Network reminds us that “This moment highlights why cages are a public health nuisance, people can’t heal, recuperate, or avoid infection in jails and prisons. No one will get released unless we demand everyone be released. This is not a time to make exceptions, it’s a matter of life and death. Contrary to how the government has treated this crisis, we cannot treat anyone as expendable. Our demands will in large part determine what we are able to achieve, the least we can do is push for everyone to be released.”

  1. Visit the Freedom for Immigrant virtual map: Mapping U.S. Immigration Detention, and spend some time looking at the map of detention facilities around the country, especially near where you live. Select the checkbox that says “Detention in Your District” on the left side of the screen. This will show you detention facilities in your congressional district, as well as those nearby. 

  2. Call or email your governor. Governors have the ability to demand ICE release those in detention based on public health and liability concerns, and can also open inquiries into ICE. A script for calling is below, and you can access an email template here.

  • Governor phone script: “Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am a resident of [CITY, STATE]. I’m calling because I am extremely concerned about the impact which COVID-19 will have on people detained at the [detention center in your area]. In the past, due to medical neglect and a lack of care at immigration detention centers, we’ve seen various outbreaks of serious diseases, including mumps and varicella. Given ICE’s pattern of neglect, we are calling for the immediate release of immigrants at the [NAME]. Can we count on Governor [NAME] to make a call to ICE Field Office Director [NAME] in support of immediate release? Every day that immigrants remain detained at the [detention center] poses a risk to their lives and to our community.
  1. Call or email your Congresspeople. Congresspeople serve as decision-makers on important issues, and can also use their oversight and budgetary power to put pressure on different people, groups, and agencies. You can see what your members of Congress have said about ICE’s response to COVID-19 on this spreadsheet; make sure you click on the different tabs for Senate and House. Contacting your Representative is especially important if there is a detention facility in your district.

    1. You can identify your Senators by entering your state at

    2. You can identify your Representative by entering your ZIP code at ​ 

    3. Detention Watch Network reminds us that members of Congress are also distancing right now, and emails will likely be more accessible to tham than calls to their district or DC offices. You can find an email template for Congress here

    4. You can also use social media to amplify your message. Remember to include their social media handles and the hashtag #FreeThemAll

These suggestions for action are adapted from Detention Watch Network’s #FreeThemAll Toolkit to Support Local Demands for Mass Release of People in ICE Custody

Estas sugerencias para acción están adaptadas de #LiberenATodxs: Kit de Herramientas para Apoyar Demandas Locales para la Liberación Masiva de Personas Bajo Custodia de ICE de “Detention Watch Network”

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