Saturday, April 3, 2021

DHS watchdog finds widespread mistreatment of immigrants at ICE facility


The Biden administration is facing difficult challenges in maintaining safe conditions for immigrants in detention.  CBS News reports that immigrants held in an immigration detention center in Arizona were subject to widespread mistreatment, ranging from inadequate medical care to excessive punishment for peacefully protesting lax coronavirus mitigation efforts.

In scrutinizing activities at the La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC) in Eloy, Arizona, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) found violations that jeopardized "the health, safety, and rights" of detainees, according to a report released yesterday. Citing nearly 1,300 grievances from immigrants, the reported that detainees depicted "an environment of mistreatment and verbal abuse."

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Eloy is run by a for-profit company.  Detainees told inspectors that they held peaceful protests in April 2020 because they were concerned that staff was not providing them the necessary protective equipment to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The detention center's staff deployed pepper spray to quell one of the protests, according to the report.

The report states as follows:

"During our unannounced inspection of LPCC, we identified violations of ICE detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees. .  . . [D]etainee reports and grievances allege an environment of mistreatment and verbal abuse, including in response to detainee peaceful protests of the facility’s handling of the pandemic. In addressing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), LPCC did not enforce ICE’s precautions including facial coverings and social distancing, which may have contributed to the widespread COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. In addition, LPCC did not meet standards for medical care, segregation, grievances, or detainee communication. We found that the medical unit was critically understaffed, took an average of 3.35 days to respond to detainee sick call requests, and neglected to refill some prescription medications. We also found the facility was not consistently providing required care for detainees in segregation and did not consistently record medication administration and daily medical visits for segregated detainees. Our grievance review revealed that LPCC did not give timely responses to most detainee grievances and, in some cases, did not respond at all. Finally, we found deficiencies in staff-detainee communication practices. Specifically, LPCC did not keep records of detainee requests and ICE did not provide a Deportation Officer visit or call schedule for detainees.

ICE Response

ICE concurred with three of the eight recommendations"


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