Implementation of Policies Regarding Immigrants is Important
Congressman Stephen Lynch
Washington DC 20515
Dear Congressman Lynch:
At your August 22 Town Hall in Braintree, you gave a brief report of your trip to visit immigrant camps on both the Texas and Mexican sides of the border. As comments at the Town Hall made clear, constituents in your district are very concerned about the immigration policies that have been implemented by the current administration, many of which are cruel and often of questionable legality.
One of the major responsibilities of Congress is oversight. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform, of which you are a member, is charged with holding the Executive Branch accountable for its policies. This includes investigating fraud and abuse in federal government programs, such as those related to immigrant detention. The Subcommittee on Government Operations, of which you are also a member, is responsible for oversight of the federal workforce, which includes ICE employees. The missions of these committees clearly include oversight of the administration’s immigration policies.
Having personally investigated conditions in immigrant camps at the southern border, you should be fully apprised of the situation in the camps. As concerned constituents, we would like more detailed information about the conditions that immigrants are facing in the camps, as well as about what types of oversight you are conducting of the administration’s immigration policies. We are thus requesting that you provide a detailed report on these issues.
We would like the report to include the following information:
• What are conditions like for immigrants being held in camps along the southern border of the United States? We would like to know about immigrants’ safety and access to food, fresh air, showers, hygienic products, and medical care. For those children still detained without their parents, we would also like to know what physical and intellectual stimulation and what psychological care and nurturing they are receiving.
• Similarly, what are the conditions for immigrants being held on the Mexican side of the border, only a few of whom are allowed to cross the border each day to apply for asylum? We have the same questions about the conditions in these camps as we do about the camps on the U.S. side of the border.
• Are procedures for processing asylum claims being carried out in a legal manner? We understand that families with children may now be held indefinitely, in contravention of the Flores Agreement, which only allows detention for a limited amount of time. Holding children in long-term detention can produce serious trauma that is hard to reverse.
• It is not clear whether making immigrants remain on the Mexican side of the border until they can apply for asylum is lawful. We would like to know if appropriate procedures are being followed.
• Finally, we would like to know if enough immigration judges are available to hear asylum cases in a reasonable amount of time and whether immigrants are able to access attorneys to assist them with their claims. We understand that immigrants who have attorneys fare much better in their hearings, but that few are able to access legal help.
We are sure that the implementation of policies regarding immigrants is as important to you as it is to us. We look forward to receiving a report that responds to our concerns.
Jamaica Plain Progressives and the JP Progressives Immigrant Rights Action Committee,
including the undersigned 8th District constituents:
We have Grave Concerns About Future Use of Shattuck site
We are writing to express our grave concerns about the State’s community process regarding the disposition of the Shattuck Hospital site after the hospital moves to the South End in two years. Also, we believe the State has not expended maximal efforts in its efforts to find a site appropriate to the needs of newly housed mentally ill and addicted residents. We are both health providers, Franklin Park Coalition members for over 20 years and one of us is a past president.
Frederick Law Olmsted designed Franklin Park for the public’s health, clearly fulfilling the State mandate to use the Shattuck acres for public health purposes. Every path and vista reflect a choice to provide relief for the anxieties and tension of city life. Studies show less diabetes with proximity to safe Parks. Parks counteract the effects of global warming. Most importantly, Franklin Park provides a beautiful backyard where diverse communities meet, play and join in communal enjoyment of Nature – truly the most health restorative quality of Franklin Park.
The State government, in an effort to save money short term, is continuing a travesty committed years ago, before it was illegal, when it took 13 acres of Franklin Park to build the Shattuck Hospital. Just as we wouldn’t sell off pieces of the Mona Lisa in a financial crisis, we should not tolerate the carving up of one of the most renowned Parks in the nation. Now is our opportunity to set this right.
The three community meetings held by the State were disjointed; discussions and decisions made at one meeting did not carry over to the next. The most recent meeting in June was chaotic, breakout groups allowed only for input on minor decisions. There was no report on the community advisory process. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy which believes this is a historic opportunity to restore the integrity of the Franklin Park and that there are other venues for supportive housing, was not allowed a hearing. A Community Advisory Board member was overheard to say that after this meeting she felt like her time on the Board had been wasted.
We believe building 70 – 100 units of supportive housing, isolating a vulnerable population, far from decent public transportation and from any neighborhood, is political opportunism. Services such as methadone and mental health programs will be hard to access for people who do not live there.
At a minimum the State Department of Public Health should engage more deeply with the Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to locate suitable State-owned properties where people who struggle with addiction and mental health problems are in a community and near adequate public transit. We urge both the City and the State to seize this opportunity to both restore our historic Park which improves health in the heart of the City, and to construct supportive housing with programs in accessible neighborhoods.
Martha Karchere, MD
and Lee Glenn, PhD