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Senator Gillibrand pushes for DHS intervention in Federal detention facilities

PRESS RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following multiple reports that federally contracted, privately run detention centers are withholding food, hygienic supplies, and contact with loved ones from immigrant detainees in order to force them to "volunteer" to perform tasks that include scrubbing toilets, mopping, waxing floors, and cleaning medical facilities, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led a group of five other Senators in calling on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to immediately take action to end these practices and ensure that these facilities comply with existing laws.

"It is unacceptable that private companies are forcing labor upon detainees, in the name of the U.S. government, to take advantage of detainee voluntary payment levels, rather than hiring employees to operate their facilities, and further highlights the lack of oversight at federally contracted detention centers," the Senators wrote. "This type of illegal behavior should not be allowed to occur under any circumstance, especially under a federal contract funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Our immigration detention system should be run by the highest standards; instead, it appears private companies have been allowed to deprive individuals of basic needs in order to provide billion dollar operations with a ready supply of cheap labor to operate their facilities. Our government should be working to protect families that need our help, not to line the pockets of private security companies that fail to meet our federal detention standards."

Gillibrand was joined on the letter by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). In addition to media reports detailing illegal practices at these detention centers, a June 2018 report from the DHS Inspector General confirmed that these Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-contracted centers are dangerous, do not consistently comply with current detention standards, and lack proper inspection. The report also found that ICE does not hold facilities directly accountable for abuse or make systemic improvements to the conditions in these jails, with some problems remaining unaddressed for years.

A copy of the Senators' letter may be found HERE.