Guest Post: Our moral imperative to stand up to GEO Group

We make these demands of the company profiting off the pain and suffering of human beings

Portrait of Jeanette Vizguerra, Sanctuary for All. (Photo courtesy of Dave Russell, Buffalo Heart Images)
Portrait of Jeanette Vizguerra, Sanctuary for All. (Photo courtesy of Dave Russell, Buffalo Heart Images)

Given the U.S government’s increasing criminal disregard for the human rights of immigrants, we the members of Sanctuary for All Colorado applaud the congressional initiative for regular oversight of the conditions in these facilities. 

However, any such initiatives must center around the demands of detainees and their families, as well as members of the communities where GEO is allowed to operate. We must force the GEO Group to prove its worthiness as an actor in the immigration process, or condemn the company and its employees as harshly as the human traffickers from whom our government claims an interest in protecting migrants. Any effort on the part of ICE or the Department of Human Services to define their own benchmarks for compliance must also be met with severe skepticism, so we offer the following list of minimum requirements for a private detention facility before it can be considered as more than a concentration camp. 

We are calling on the GEO Group to immediately comply with the following demands:

  1. Ensure unfettered access to fundamental health and sanitation services (clean water, nutritious food prepared in compliance with sanitation codes, ample grassy outdoor recreation space and time allocated therein, medical treatment, etc.)
  2. Maintain each detainee’s right to communicate, via phone and contact visits, with family, friends, legal counsel and other visitors
  3. Expand the list of acceptable IDs that visitors can provide for visitation access, regardless of their documentation status
  4. Maintain an appropriate staff-to-detainee ratio, per number of individuals detained, with an established humane maximum capacity that also complies with building fire and safety codes
  5. Require all GEO employees to engage in ongoing mandatory anti-racism and human rights violations training, including eliminating inappropriate use of restraints
  6. Allow legal and humanitarian observers to investigate facility conditions, staffed by independent, qualified non-GEO and non-U.S. Government individuals
  7. Provide access to immigration-related legal services to all detainees
  8. Mandate a reporting service allowing GEO employees to anonymously contact an
    external organization when detainees’ rights are being abused.
  9. Give all detainees at least 72 hours’ notice ahead of their release 
  10. Make information regarding all of the above publicly available

The community will participate in this oversight process by interviewing recently released detainees and their families to ensure these demands have been met. If the GEO Group cannot operate within a minimal standard of humanity at an acceptable profit, then alternatives to privatized detention that respect the needs of affected families and interested community members must be explored. Our responsibility to those affected by our nation’s increasingly inhuman detention policies and processes cannot end with a mere relocation of detainees, which in itself would constitute a step toward undue family separation.

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  1. Thank you for shining a light on how the community feels about imprisoning and profiting off asylum-seekers and other undocumented people. I heard Rep. Crow say that 800 of those being detained by ICE at GEO in Aurora face no criminal charges. They should not be locked up on the taxpayers’ dime while awaiting the outcome of their immigration cases. #Closethecamps

  2. Why should illegals and they are illegals including you; be treated better than US citizens who are also being detained? Dont know but you expect them to be just like you expect all immigration laws to be waived so that illegals can do what ever they want; when ever they want. US citizens dont get to pick and chose what laws to abide by or follow so why should illegals?

    Keep doing this and Trump will just be re elected.

    NO amnesty. NO work permits. NO nothing but deportation.

  3. Vizguerra wrote this? If she has a vocabulary like in this article ,she should be smart enough to not have commited the crimes she did.

    Agenda “journalism” again.. I would like to see her cuffed and boarding JPATS for the ride “Home”


  4. Yo Buck, you are equating the English language with intelligence, which if you had any type of background in linguistics (which I do), you would know is not the case. Prior to colonization, English wasn’t spoken in the Americas. The Pre-Colombian Americas were not inhabited with white people nor was English used. Jeanette’s lineage is more American than any colonizers. You know nothing of Jeanette nor any crimes you claim she committed, and you clearly don’t understand language, language translation, or the history of how America came to be the America that you know now.

  5. Thank you for sharing your perspective, Ms. Vizguerra. These camps are a travesty!! They operate without any oversight from our elected officials— who knows what is going on in there! We need to close them down immediately.

  6. it makes me cry every time I drive by the camp here in aurora they should get rid of these camps or do SOMETHING this company GEO is heartless

  7. These camps are horrifying. THEY MUST BE CLOSED IMMEDIATELY!!!!! I’ve been reading the report by homeland security detailing how many violations GEO group has committed and how unsanitary and unsafe this place is. Disgusting and evil!!!! We need every single person out of there RIGHT NOW

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