Mansfield panel describes border conditions for immigrants and asylum seekers


November 25, 2019
WickedLocal Mansfield
Paula Vogler

MANSFIELD – While the images of conditions at the Mexico border may have faded into the background for many people, a recent meeting sponsored by the Mansfield Democratic Town Committee sought to remind people of what is still happening to immigrants and asylum seekers there.

The number of people held in detention centers has increased under every president for more than 25 years according to Mario Paredes, a lawyer with Prisoner Legal Services and the Immigrant Detention Conditions Project.

He said while there are 220 adult immigration facilities around the country, three of those are in Massachusetts facilities in Bristol, Plymouth and Franklin counties that are run by the county sheriffs.

“Oversight is the biggest issue with detention centers,” Paredes said. “Each detention center has its own set of standards it’s supposed to be abiding by; they are not pinned down to any one set of standards.”

He said immigrants who reach out for help run the risk of assault within a facility or being moved to a different facility far away from family and friends.

While since 2009 Congress requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to step in to control any facility that fails two inspections, Paredes said since that time, no facility has failed; there is a 100 percent inspection pass rate now.

He said the Immigration Detention Conditions Project seeks to “ensure legal services for this population.” While he hears stories anecdotally, he said the group wants to collect facts.

“Right now we are making a concerted effort to collect information so down the line we can use it for advocacy,” Paredes said. “We want to provide resources for self-help as well.”

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