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Unsafe conditions found at ICE detention centers

There has been a steady stream of reports about the conditions in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers holding migrants. Now a new report by the Office of Inspector General, which is a federal watchdog organization within the Department of Homeland Security, shows how bad things have gotten in four of them, particularly regarding unusable bathrooms and unsafe food. According to CNN, these inspections were unannounced and conducted between May and November of 2018. The facilities can hold nearly 5,000 detainees.

Unsafe food

The quality of food was deemed fit for consumption at the LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana and Aurora Processing Center in Colorado. Such was not the case for Essex County Correctional Facility in New Jersey and Adelanto ICE Processing Center in California, which were called “egregious” by investigators. The problems in Essex included open packages of raw chicken that were leaking blood in refrigerators. There were instances of spoiled lunch meat and bread that was moldy. The conditions were so bad that the kitchen manager was replaced during the inspection.

Unsanitary bathrooms

There were general reports of unsanitary bathrooms in all four facilities, but Adelanto and Essex were singled out. Issues at the these two included mold and peeling paint on bathroom walls, floors and showers as well as unusable toilets.

Suicide a concern

There were also reports from the Essex facility where several braided sheets were hanging from ventilation that occupants had used for hanging themselves. Often they did not succeed, and guards would mock the occupants when they returned from medical treatment.

Other problems as well

This report goes on to point out that many of the problems in the report were addressed. However, this is just one of many that reveal growing concern over the safety and health of detainees. Overcrowding is a particular worry as record numbers of migrants continue to show up at the southern border.

Families concerned about the state of relatives in detention centers can speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney. These legal professionals can provide information and help fight for the rights of their migrant family members.

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  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
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