A federal investigation of four detainment centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) found immigrant treatment lacking. The centers from the investigation were in California, Georgia, New Jersey and New Mexico.
By the numbers
Detainers have risen, almost doubling in the last year. In 2015 ICE reported 96,892 detainers, resulting in 69,478 interior removals. In 2016 detainers fell to 86,026, but interior removals remained close at 65,332. However, in 2017 detainers have almost doubled with 142,356 detainers and 81,603 interior removals reported as of December 13, 2017. Border arrests, which typically do not lead to detainment, remained close for 2015-2016. In 2017, border arrests have decreased significantly, possibly in relation to increased deterrent efforts by ICE.
Cause for worry
The investigation found detainees were subject to inhumane treatment and living conditions. In addition to general mistreatment and dehumanizing practices, such as strip searching, detainees lived in potentially unsafe environments that were unclean and not properly temperature controlled.
Detainees also reported insufficient hygiene products and long waits for medical care. The inquiry also noted inadequate food, with mentions of moldy and spoiled food found at all four facilities investigated.
ICE does have a reporting line for detainees in ICE custody to report problems, and touts having resolved over 2,000 cases since its launch in September of 2012. However, the federal investigation found that facility staff reportedly discouraged detainees from filing grievances, and grievances that were filed were not thoroughly documented or investigated.
Human rights groups have been accusing ICE of mistreatment of detainees for more than 20 years, but little progress has been made to improve facilities or balance detainee to employee ratios. As detainers increase, the problem of mistreatment will continue to rise.