The Biden administration plans to close two Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers after allegations of medical and physical abuse against detainees, CNN reported Thursday.
A doctor allegedly performed unauthorized hysterectomies and neglected other detainees at the privately operated Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, while it is alleged that officials exercised excessive use of force against peaceful detainees at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in Bristol County, Massachusetts, both facilities are expected to close, according to CNN.
“We have an obligation to make lasting improvements to our civil immigration detention system,” Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement, CNN reported. “This marks an important first step to realizing that goal.”
“DHS detention facilities and the treatment of individuals in those facilities will be held to our health and safety standards,” Mayorkas said, CNN reported. “Where we discover they fall short, we will continue to take action as we are doing today.”
Throughout the pandemic, ICE has refused to save lives, curb the spread of COVID-19 and free people in its custody.
217 organizations are calling on the Biden admin to address the COVID-19 crisis in ICE detention during the first 100 days. #FreeThemAll
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 26, 2021
The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Biden administration to close nearly 40 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities with histories of reported inhumane treatment and others in remote locations in April, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported. Over 20,400 people were in ICE custody as of Friday, according to the agency.
An investigation into the Irwin County Detention Center was opened after a whistleblower alleged detainees were given hysterectomies without consenting to the operations, the DCNF reported. At least five women were reportedly given hysterectomies and another woman said the doctor pressured urged her to undergo an operation that would result in sterilization.
Some detainees at the ICE facility in Bristol County threw plastic chairs at officers while others calmly refused COVID-19 testing and isolation on May 1, 2020, according to the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General. Over an hour later, officials deployed flashbang grenades, canines, and an “excessive amount” of pepper spray containers against detainees.
“So much pepper spray was used that two detainees were taken to the hospital with symptoms of 2 respiratory distress, 1 a third required the administration of emergency chest compressions to be revived, and many detainees reported breathing difficulties in the days and weeks after the May 1 Incident,” according to the report. “… the detainee who required emergency chest compressions was not taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation or assessment, but was instead placed in solitary confinement.”
Detainees were not given adequate medical attention following the incident and one inmate who required emergency chest compressions was placed in solitary confinement instead of taken to a hospital, according to the report. (RELATED: US Deported 6 Women Who Complained About Medical Malpractice At Georgia ICE Facility)
“Allow me to state one foundational principle: we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention,” Mayorkas said in a memo to acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, obtained by CNN.
Neither ICE or the Department of Homeland Security responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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