COVID-19 Special Coverage
UN group calls for moratorium on immigration detention
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UN group calls for moratorium on immigration detention

The UN Network on Migration has released a guide suggesting states and relevant stakeholders “[s]top new detentions of migrants for migration – or health-related reasons and introduce a moratorium on the use of immigration detention.” The Network released the 12-page guide as part of a series highlighting how the spread of COVID-19 affects migrants and their communities. The document suggests alternatives to immigrant detention as a means to prevent the spread of the virus.

The guide restates Objective 13 of the 2018 Global Compact for Migration: that states only “use migration detention [] as a measure of last resort and work towards alternatives.” The pact was agreed to by 193 UN member nations, excluding the US. The US contended that the agreement was incompatible with its state sovereignty.

In addition to the immigration detention moratorium, the Network suggests states “scale up” community-based alternatives, release all currently detained migrants into such alternative situations, and improve the conditions of immigration detention facilities while alternatives are being implemented.

The guide also states a call to action for eliminating immigration detention once and for all. It suggests that nations take the momentum COVID-19 has brought to alternative immigration solutions and maintain it “to pass laws, policies, and regulations, [to] decriminaliz[e] irregular migration and expanding access to safe, orderly, and regular migration pathways.”

Lastly, the guide highlights responses across the globe that the Network believes are positive moves away from traditional detention. Though the US is not mentioned, the state of California and the city of Chicago both made the list.

For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.