ICE Ignores Health and Safety of Jailed Immigrants
March 27, 2019
According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, failed to acknowledge abusive conditions that jailed, undocumented immigrants face.
These are detainees that did not commit crimes; they are waiting for processing and potential deportation out of the United States.
ICE did not Impose Financial Penalties When It Could Have
Agency officials turned a blind eye on many occasions, by allowing operators of immigrant detention facilities to avoid inmate facility requirements. According to the inspector general, ICE did not utilize all the tools available to hold immigrant detention facilities accountable for health and safety violations.
Between October 1, 2015 and June 30, 2018, ICE failed to meet standards in thousands of documented cases. According to the report, ICE imposed financial penalties on only two occasions.
The inspector general reviewed 106 contracts ICE has with other detention facilities, and only 28 included the “quality assurance surveillance plan.” This surveillance plan is needed for recommending financial penalties. A total of 14,000 deficiencies were also found at the 106 facilities during the review period.
What ICE did Instead
Instead of imposing financial penalties, the inspector general stated that ICE issued waivers to facilities that did not meet safety standards. These waivers sought to exempt them from having to comply with the required standards.
However, according to the inspector general’s report, ICE may be indefinitely allowing contract facilities to ignore detention standards that are put into place to assure safety, security, and the rights of undocumented immigrants.
A spokesperson for ICE stated in an e-mail that they are committed to providing a safe and secure environment for those in custody. It went on to say that it has a strong record of holding detention facilities accountable when they fall below acceptable standards. Failure to meet these standards can lead to termination of the agreement between ICE and the facility in question, or a reduction of population levels immediately. The spokesperson, however, could not say how often this had been, or was being, invoked.
Food Safety Violations
A surprise inspection to a Newark, New Jersey jail was particularly appalling. There were several food safety issues that have the potential of endangering the health of detainees. The inspection uncovered raw and spoiled meat, molded bread, and raw chicken that was leaking blood into the refrigerator it was stored in.
The inspector’s report notes that the spoiled meat was being served to detainees, and that leftover bread was being recycled to make bread pudding every two to three weeks. Many of these detainees suffered symptoms of food poisoning. One detainee in particular stated that the meatballs they were served smelled like “fecal matter.”
The inspector general’s report states that ICE employees who conduct on-site inspections of detention facilities are overworked. According to the report, overworked employees allow violations to go unaddressed. Unaddressed violations lead to dangerous facility conditions.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Represent Immigrant Detainees
Immigrant detainee abuse is something that should never happen, but unfortunately it does. If you or a member of your family were subjected to detainee abuse, the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC will fight hard for your rights. For a free consultation contact us online or call us at 215-496-0690. Our office is located in Philadelphia and we represent clients in Pennsylvania, the tri-state area, New Jersey, as well as nationally.