NOW, RAICES Demand Humane Treatment of Women in Immigration Prisons

PHOENIX, ARIZ.– Gathering in a city that houses some of the worst immigration detention centers in the country, activists are rallying today with the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) to Unlock the Future for immigrant women and girls.

Fifteen people have died at the Eloy Detention Center in Phoenix, including a woman who was denied prompt medical treatment for a leg injury, causing a fatal blood clot. The center has also seen widespread measles outbreaks and reports of discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community. At least 2 transgender detainees faced physical abuse or harassment while in custody and the center has a history of placing immigrants in solitary confinement just for identifying as gay or transgender.

“No one simply trying to escape violence, sexual harassment or poverty in their homelands should be subjected to such horrors when coming to this country for refuge,” said NOW President Toni Van Pelt. “During a tour of Eloy this week we heard heartbreaking stories of family separations and inadequate health and personal hygiene care. These atrocities simply must stop.”

To demand action against such horrid conditions, the Unlock the Future campaign is championing a Bill of Rights for immigrant women and girls, which has thousands of signatures calling for basic human needs and dignities for detained people. This powerful petition will be delivered to seats of power around the nation to demand change.  

“Beyond improving conditions at the detention prisons, the United States must also utilize fair and humane immigration processes which meet international principles of refugee protection, our own standards previously adopted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and basic standards of decency and compassion,” said NOW Vice President Christian F. Nunes.  


Unlock the Future Phoenix Speaker Quotes: 

“Halfway between Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona are two centers where women and children immigrants are imprisoned and we are seeing a rise in the number of deaths and a rise in complaints of sexual abuse and miscarriage. As an Arizona State Senator, I am using my voice to demand change. I refuse to just stand back and watch as immigrants in Arizona cells are being denied basic human rights.”  

State Senator Victoria Steele, Representative for the 9th District of Arizona 

“It is up to us as Arizonans to defend the human rights of migrant women and girls and welcome them into safety here in the US. Let’s welcome them with open arms and open hearts because they’re not strangers. They’re mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts. They are women, just like you and me, who deserve basic human rights including safe living conditions and medical care. The system of suffering must end. No human being belongs in a cage. Join NOW & RAICES to Unlock the Future for all migrants, refugees and displaced persons.” 

–Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy, RAICES 

While most of the narrative surrounding immigrant detention focuses on the cruelty of separating families and caging children, we cannot forget that every instance of incarceration is an act of violence. Every single time someone is incarcerated is inhumane.  

Alejandra Pablos, Reproductive Justice Activist, Immigration Detention Survivor 

“It is not enough to speak Spanish, we must understand the trauma and political conditions that brought our people here.”  

Imelda Ojeda, founding member of the Latinx Therapist in Action Network, describing how true advocacy is about recognizing humanity and each person’s right to be understood. 

Immigration is a humanitarian issue and truly hits home for me and must be treated just so. We must work to protect, support, and uplift every person in this country, regardless of their immigration status.” – 

Sedona Lynch, student activist speaking on behalf of Feminist Majority 

For a list of Unlock the Future Co-Sponsors please click here.  

Contact: Kimberly Hayes, Press Secretary,, 202-570-4745