In California, prison and ICE collaboration impacts immigrants and refugees who have served time in state prison. Instead of returning to their families, immigrants who are found suitable for parole are directly transferred into ICE detention facilities where they await deportation.
This form of double-punishment and exile is cruel and separates families. As the faith community, we are called to practice forgiveness, generosity and compassion for immigrants, and those who are incarcerated.
Charles Joseph is an example of one community member impacted by this prison and ICE collaboration. Charles is a father, husband, artist, musician, and Indo-Fijian leader. He came to the U.S. from Fiji as a permanent resident as a teenager. After being imprisoned at age 22, Charles transformed his life while serving his 13 year sentence by participating in violence prevention programs and developing his artistic talent. However, after winning parole, because of current policy, he was transferred directly into ICE detention and is now facing deportation.
“Charles’ story illustrates the immorality of our legal system, where his conduct as a 22 year old youth is being used to permanently deprive him of the basic right to go home, and reunite with his family and community.” says his lawyer, Francisco Ugarte, SF Public Defender
If Charles is deported to Fiji it would create more trauma for his family. His wife Shelly says, “With my husband in detention it’s already a separation, but for him to think that he may not be able to come home and the uncertainty makes it unstable for me and my family emotionally and physically. A pardon will be our last hope to finally become complete and be a family.”
UPDATE: On April 13, 2020, Charles was released from Mesa Verde Detention Center after a Federal Judge ordered ICE to release him along with three others detained who were at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19 infection. Charles is currently living at home with his family in Sacramento, continuing to support the efforts to release others still detained by ICE and continuing to pursue his pardon application with Governor Newsom.