Advocacy group discovers poor conditions at detention centers

Detention Watch, an advocacy group for immigrants, just released a report about the conditions that illegal immigrants face when they are detained. There are serious human rights violations and incidents that seem to constitute gross negligence in the report, which was published after Detention Watch interviewed detainees in facilities from eight states, including California.

According to the report, one facility served the detainees “vermin-infested food” while another facility experienced a preventable death. In that incident, a 39-year-old man with a heart condition died because the staff at the facility did not act in a timely manner to his medical needs. His condition was curable, and the facility — run entirely by contractors — was surely investigated for the tragic incident.

In addition to these individual moments, the report shed light on widespread overcrowding in many of the facilities. There was also a culture of discrimination and harassment; some facility staffers would verbally abuse detainees because of the color of their skin. Although not indicated, if this atmosphere was the norm at some of the facilities, many of the detainees were surely denied other basic rights — such as the ability to contact family members or seek legal help.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a duty to uphold the immigration laws in our country — but they are also charged with keeping the detainees safe, specifically “prioritizing their health,” and making sure conditions in their facilities meet acceptable standards. Clearly, as this report shows, ICE is considerably failing in these regards.

Source: Multi-American, “Watchdog group’s report condemns immigrant detention facilities,” Leslie Berestein Rojas, Nov. 15, 2012