Photo: Immigration detention center
by Seth Garfinkel
Last week, Detention Watch Network (DWN) launched its “Expose and Close” campaign, an initiative designed to reveal the egregious human rights violations taking place in immigrant detention facilities throughout the United States and to advocate for reform.
As part of this campaign, DWN, in collaboration with human rights advocates, community organizers, legal service providers, and faith groups, released ten reports highlighting the inhumane living conditions at some of the country’s worst detention centers. The reports detail accounts of physical and psychological abuse, including sexual abuse, inadequate medical care, and prolonged solitary confinement.
The reports also reveal how the detention system obstructs noncitizens’ access to legal assistance. For example, at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia – the largest detention facility in the country – detainees encounter restricted access to the law library, limited access to a shared phone, and a lack of private space to hold legal meetings.
Making matters worse, all attorney-client meetings are “no-contact,” meaning that detainees are physically separated from their attorneys by a plexiglass wall, thereby impeding communication and delaying the processing of legal paperwork.
While the reports showcase the most abysmal abuses at some of the worst facilities, unfortunately, the conditions and abuses are not unique to these ten detention centers. Through the Expose and Close campaign, DWN calls on the government to take the following actions:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should immediately close the ten facilities exposed by these reports.
- ICE should take immediate steps to remedy the problems identified in these reports at its remaining facilities, including elimination of the practice of solitary confinement, and improvements to medical care, nutrition, recreation, visitation, and access to legal services.
- President Obama must call for immediate reforms to protect the safety and human rights of those in immigration custody, including enforceable detention standards, and meaningful independent oversight to the Department of Homeland Security.