This morning, we learned from CoreCivic staff that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer be detaining asylum seekers at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility beginning January 12.
Although this has come as a surprise to us, our staff has learned to expect the unexpected in our line of work.
We have not received any official notification from the Department of Justice, which has funded this vital work; however, ICE has confirmed that their operations and personnel are shifting from Tallahatchie to CoreCivic’s Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, MS.
We are hopeful that our colleagues in Louisiana and Mississippi will fill the gap by expanding their legal orientation services to this facility, but we have no way to know if asylum seekers detained in Natchez, MS will receive the legal guidance they need to navigate the asylum process.
Detention of asylum seekers is neither humane nor necessary. Among non-detained asylum seekers, 98.7% attended their court hearings in 2019. The Tallahatchie facility was never an appropriate place for housing this vulnerable population, but we are disappointed that they are merely being moved from one remote facility to another, rather than being released to our communities where they can heal from trauma with the support of friends and loved ones.
Going forward, our incredible Asylum Initiative team, Christy Swatzell and Luis Melean, will continue to serve our community through MIA’s other projects—the demand for our services for immigrant children and survivors continues to increase each year. But we recognize that it is through Christy and Luis’s passionate work for our Asylum Initiative that many of you first learned about and began supporting our organization.
We hope to continue the conversation around detention, deportation, and asylum with each of you who have poured so much of your time, treasure, and talent into this program. It has been an honor to serve this diverse and resilient group of newcomers with you, and we know we can count on your support when the next crisis in our region requires a compassionate response.
Sally M. Joyner
Interim Executive Director
Mid-South Immigration Advocates