Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito urges Department of Homeland Security to end use of privately-run immigration detention centers

Speaker Mark-Viverito: “DHS and private contractors have deprived civil immigration detainees of basic physical and legal rights without consequence”

NEW YORK – In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE’s Director, Sarah R. Saldañal, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito today urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and end the use of privately-run immigration detention centers which, time and again, have proven themselves unfit or unwilling to meet proper standards of care.

As Speaker Mark-Viverito said in the letter: “Unlike government-run prisons and detention centers, privately run institutions are not subject to the same reporting and transparency requirements. As a result, the DHS and private contractors have deprived civil immigration detainees of basic physical and legal rights without consequence. Given the number of class-action lawsuits recently filed by immigrants, the DHS can no longer ignore the systemic violation of the human rights of immigrants in administrative detention, many of whom are refugees and asylum seekers. …. I therefore call upon the DHS and ICE to put an end to the use of private immigration detention facilities, and re-evaluate existing detention guidelines and oversight mechanisms to ensure that immigrants in civil immigration detention are not deprived of their basic human rights or their ability to pursue immigration relief available under the laws and regulations of the United States.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Secretary Johnson and Director Saldaña:

I write to urge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and end the use of privately-run immigration detention centers which, time and again, have proven themselves unfit or unwilling to meet proper standards of care.

Prompted by findings that privately-run prisons provide sub-standard services in comparison to federally run prisons, the DOJ has affirmatively taken steps to significantly reduce, and ultimately end, its use of private facilities to house inmates. The private companies that currently run the majority of private prisons, are also contracted to run the majority of private immigration detention centers. Despite being centers for administrative civil detention, there exist far too many parallels with the criminal prison system; specifically their structure, inhumane conditions and wide-spread misconduct.

Unlike government-run prisons and detention centers, privately run institutions are not subject to the same reporting and transparency requirements. As a result, the DHS and private contractors have deprived civil immigration detainees of basic physical and legal rights without consequence. Given the number of class-action lawsuits recently filed by immigrants, the DHS can no longer ignore the systemic violation of the human rights of immigrants in administrative detention, many of whom are refugees and asylum seekers.

While I am encouraged by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent confirmation that children apprehended along with a parent are entitled to the protections outlined in the Flores settlement, there are continued reports of settlement violations. Further, the abuses reported by immigrant detainees of all ages, can best be characterized as a failure to meet basic human needs rather than a denial of additional protections. The countless reports of inadequate medical and mental-health care highlight the blatant disregard that these private contractors have for the well-being of those detained at their facilities. The DHS should not allow these private companies to continue failing to meet their contractual obligation to provide adequate care, much less to profit from it.

Equally egregious is use of solitary confinement to address logistical issues relating to the proper placement of LGBTQ immigrants and youth whose age authorities are unable to determine. The negative, long-term effects of solitary confinement are well-documented and generally undisputed. Many experts, including the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, consider solitary confinement a form of torture, particularly when used for indefinite amounts of time or for individuals who suffer from trauma or mental disabilities. The use of solitary confinement within criminal prisons is extremely controversial, and its use in civil detention centers even more so, particularly where, as here, it is being used for administrative convenience.

Furthermore, private detention centers often create significant obstacles for detainees seeking counsel and access to justice. It is well-documented that with legal counsel, detainees are far more likely to obtain some form of relief. That is why my colleagues at the City Council and I have provided significant funding for immigration legal services and continue to call on Congress to establish a right to counsel for immigrants facing deportation. Placing obstacles to obtaining counsel makes it much more likely that many of those entitled to relief will not obtain it.

These are only a few examples of the well documented and wide-spread abuses occurring as a result of DHS and ICE’s current detention and deportation policies. I therefore call upon the DHS and ICE to put an end to the use of private immigration detention facilities, and re-evaluate existing detention guidelines and oversight mechanisms to ensure that immigrants in civil immigration detention are not deprived of their basic human rights or their ability to pursue immigration relief available under the laws and regulations of the United States.

 


Presidenta del Concejo de la Ciudad de Nueva York Melissa Mark-Viverito insta Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) de acabar con el uso de los centros de detención de inmigrantes privados

Presidenta Melissa Mark-Viverito: “El DHS y los contratistas privados han negado a inmigrantes en detención civil sus derechos físicos y legales básicos sin consecuencias”.

NUEVA YORK – En una carta al Secretario del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional Jeh Johnson y la Directora de ICE, Sarah R. Saldaña, la Presidenta del Concejo Municipal de Nueva York Melissa Mark-Viverito hoy instó al Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS) e Inmigración e Imposición de Aduana (ICE) de terminar con el uso de centros de detención de inmigración privados que repetidamente han demostrado no son aptos o no están dispuestos a satisfacer normas adecuadas de atención.

Como la Presidenta Mark-Viverito dijo en la carta: “A diferencia de las prisiones y centros de detención estatales, instituciones de gestión privada no son sujetas a los mismos requisitos de información y transparencia. Como resultado, el DHS y los contratistas privados han negado a inmigrantes en detención civil sus derechos físicos y legales básicos sin consecuencias. Dado el número de demandas colectivas presentadas recientemente por inmigrantes, el DHS no puede ignorar la violación sistémica de los derechos humanos de los inmigrantes en detención administrativa, muchos de los cuales son refugiados y solicitantes de asilo.

… Por lo tanto llamo al DHS y ICE que pongan fin al uso de centros de detención de inmigración privados y evaluar de nuevo las pautas de detención existentes y mecanismos de supervisión para garantizar que los inmigrantes en detención civil no sean privados de sus derechos humanos básicos o su capacidad de procurar alivio de inmigración disponible bajo las leyes y regulaciones de los Estados Unidos”.

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