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Albuquerque, N.M. Senate Bill 172, an Intergovernmental Service Agreement (“IGSA”) ban bill, nicknamed the “Dignity Not Detention” bill, has been filed at the New Mexico Legislature. The bill is sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino and Senator Antonio “Moe” Maestas.

If enacted, New Mexican local governments would no longer be permitted to contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purposes of immigration detention. 

ICE operates a system of over 200 immigration detention facilities across the US, stripping thousands of people of their freedom and dignity every single day. The ICE detention system has significantly expanded over the past three decades through the proliferation of private prisons and subsequent lobbying to Congress by private companies to increase enforcement operations and detain more people for profit. 

Detained migrants and asylum seekers have reported widespread violations of their human rights and safety, even resulting in death, inside New Mexico’s three ICE detention centers: Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia; Cibola County Correctional Center in Milan; and Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral. Furthermore, reports have shown that immigration detention damages the economies of New Mexico communities.

New Mexicans value welcoming newcomers with dignity, regardless of immigration status. The caging of migrants and asylum seekers is a direct affront to our values, and we should distance ourselves from the ever-growing ICE enforcement and detention apparatus. 

Fernanda Banda, Campaigns Manager at New Mexico Dream Team said,

We need to start by putting an end to the most severe form of systemic violence, which is depriving people of their freedom. My family, and families of those who are detained suffer from our country’s excessive use of detentions here in New Mexico. I was separated from my dad after he was detained and deported by the Otero County Prison Facility eleven years ago. During his time in detention he would tell my mother and sister he was scared because they would not pay attention to their needs, the officers would mistreat the inmates, and the conditions they lived in were not good or sanitary. My father never got the opportunity to see his lawyer, or speak to him. It saddens me to see my community continuing to be the victim of horrendous acts and treatment, we need to put an end to this right away.”

Sophia Genovese, Supervising Attorney and EJW Disaster Resilience Fellow said, 

“For years, detained migrants and asylum seekers have consistently reported unlivable conditions and horrific mistreatment at New Mexico’s three immigration detention centers. From lack of access to clean drinking water to physical and psychological abuse to the denial of due process, immigrants in New Mexico’s ICE facilities have been deprived of basic human dignity and respect. It’s high time for New Mexico to take these complaints seriously and demand the end of the ICE contracts at Torrance, Cibola, and Otero once and for all.”  

Ariel Prado, Program Director at Innovation Law Lab said,

“ICE’s detention centers in New Mexico have been sites of death, hunger strikes, terrifying rates of suicidality, and widespread negligent and abusive conditions. To make matters worse, ICE and those who contract with the agency have tried to hide these horrors from public view time and time again. This bill offers an opportunity for New Mexicans to join communities of conscience across the continent who have chosen not to participate in the unnecessary, xenophobic, and cruel separation of families and torture of immigrants.”

Luis Suarez, Field Advocacy Manager at Detention Watch Network said,

“Detention centers in New Mexico are emblematic of how the immigration detention system as a whole is inherently abusive, unjust and fatally flawed beyond repair. With this bill, New Mexico joins several states in the national movement to end immigration detention through state legislation. While the Biden administration is co-signing a right-wing agenda that promotes fear and demonizes migrants, local communities are taking steps to ensure that every person has the right to move and live freely with dignity and respect which starts with ending immigration detention.”

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The New Mexico Dream Team is a statewide network committed to create power for multigenerational, undocumented, and mixed status families through trainings and leadership development. We work to engage our community and allies in becoming leaders using an intersectional, gender, and racial justice lens—to develop and implement an organizing and advocacy infrastructure for policy change fighting to dismantle systemic oppression.

The New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) advances justice and equity by empowering low-income immigrant communities through collaborative legal services, advocacy, and education.

Innovation Law Lab leverages the law, technology and organizing to end isolation and exploitation of immigrants and refugees, build permanent pathways to immigrant inclusion, and advance justice.

Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention.