The New York Civil Liberties Union has joined a coalition of community groups, legal service providers and advocacy organizations in calling for the timely release of immigrant detainees held at the controversial Varick Street Federal Detention Center in lower Manhattan.
In a Feb. 1 statement delivered to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, 16 organizations, including the NYCLU, maintained that no person should remain at Varick Street or be transferred to another facility if they are eligible for release to their families in the New York area.
The NYCLU and its partners urged the federal government to perform a case-by-case review of all detainees at the facility, which has been the subject of numerous complaints over the years concerning inhumane living conditions, indefinite detention and detainees’ restricted access to legal services. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced this month that it would close Varick Street and transfer the center’s roughly 300 detainees to the Hudson County Correctional Center in New Jersey.
The organizations argue that transferring detainees to facilities where they will encounter similarly unacceptable conditions and severely restricted access to friends and family is no solution to the problems at Varick Street.
According to the statement, people who may be eligible for bond, parole, temporary protected status, or who may be subject to indefinite detention may be eligible for timely release from Varick Street. The organizations ask the federal government to ensure that individuals who remained detained have access to legal, family and community support.