A new report has found that American immigration detention facilities regularly subject inmates to strip searches, unsanitary conditions, and threats of prolonged confinement without justification.
The report stems from an inspection of several US detention facilities by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General, which followed after immigrant rights groups and members of the public lodged complaints about the treatment of the immigrants.
“Overall, we identified problems that undermine the protection of detainees’ rights, their humane treatment, and the provision of a safe and healthy environment,” the report states.
The report had several recommendations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fix the issues, including drawing up guidelines so that ICE field offices can better know proper protocol when it comes to confinement. The report also recommended that ICE set up a system to self-analyse for problems, and then fix them on their own.
“Based on multi-layered, rigorous inspections and oversight programmes, ICE is confident in conditions and high standards of care at its detention facilities,” said Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokesperson said in a statement. “As such, ICE concurs with the IG’s recommendation to further enhance compliance monitoring as part of our already robust inspections program.”
Immigration advocates say that the report, and its recommendations, don’t go far enough — and that harsh conditions for immigrants are nothing new.
“Sadly, these findings are not new. ICE’s inability to provide for the safety and health of the tens of thousands of immigrants in its custody has been documented for years. Today, we are calling on Congress to demand accountability and drastically reduce ICE’s detention budget,” Mary Meg McCarthy, the executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Centre, said in a statement.
“While the Inspector General’s report provides documentation of extensive abuses, its remedy is incredibly insufficient: it directs ICE field office directors to review the areas of concern,” Ms McCarthy continued. “We know from earlier directives that ICE’s internal review processes fail to generate meaningful change.”
Investigators inspected five detention centres in the United States, all unannounced.
At one facility, in Santa Ana, California, inmates were regularly subjected to strip searches without documentation, and in…