U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and a delegation of fellow Californian legislators sent a letter Friday, Dec. 14 to the head of the countrys immigration agency expressing concern about conditions and oversight in migrant detention facilities, including one in Adelanto.
The legislators made 20 requests of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, including copies of various contracts and policies.
“In the wake of troubling recent reports by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)s Office of Inspector General (OIG) and others, we write to request additional information about ICEs management and oversight of its California detention facilities to ensure that the human rights and dignity of detained immigrants in our state are protected,” reads the letter to Ronald D. Vitiello, ICEs acting director.
ICE will respond to the letter “via the appropriate Congressional channels,” a spokesman wrote in an email late Friday. “The agency is committed to providing for the welfare of all those entrusted to its custody and to ensuring all detainees are treated in a humane and professional manner.”
Last September, a government report found inadequate detainee medical care at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, where inspectors found braided nooses made from bedsheets during a surprise visit. The facility had at least seven suicide attempts between December 2016 and October 2017 and three people died at the facility due to medical care deficiencies.
There were 80 complaints filed from November 2017 to April 2018. Detainees complained they did not receive urgent medical care, were not seen for persistent conditions – sometimes for months – and were not given necessary medications. One detainee said he had several teeth fall out because he had been waiting for a dentist to fill his cavities for two years. A prison dentist suggested to inspectors that detainees could maintain good dental hygiene by using strings from their shoes to floss their teeth.
Prison officials have taken corrective steps to address problems and concerns, according to a Sept. 6 letter from Adelanto warden James Janecka, who is employed by Florida-based GEO Group Inc., the owner and operator of the center. The nooses, Janecka wrote, were sheets hung by detainees to provide privacy when using toilet facilities.
Harris, Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, and nearly two dozen legislators said that ICE “appears to be increasingly evading accountability for its management of these facilities by inappropriately deflecting requests for information about facilities operated and staffed by private contractors to those private contractors.”
Other reports also pointed to “unacceptable conditions at other immigration detention facilities in California” – including the Santa Ana jail and the Theo Lacy facility in Orange County, the legislators wrote.
The legislators who signed the letter include Congressmembers Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, Norma Torres, D-Pomona, and Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands.
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