Scrutinizing the Treatment and Conditions Black Immigrants Face in Detention

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detains hundreds of thousands of people each year in hundreds of jails and jail-like facilities throughout the United States. Increasingly, individuals in ICE detention are Black or come from majority-Black countries in Africa and the Caribbean.  

Why is ICE detention concerning?   

The complex network ICE uses for detention has long history of human rights and due process violations, sometimes with tragic and deadly repercussions. In this context, and the broader context of mass incarceration in the United StatesBlack immigrants face egregious conditions. Yet these concerns too often are missing from the public’s understanding of immigration and immigration detention. 

Black immigrants report experiencing serious harm in detention, including physical and verbal abuse, violent coercion to force signing deportation papers, and denial of medical and other necessary care.  

Why were these Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed?

The Council and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) are filing requests for information about the conditions, treatment, and outcomes in eight facilities throughout the U.S. South.  

The FOIAs ask for information from October 1, 2015 to the present. The eight facilities are Jackson Parish Correctional Center (Louisiana)LaSalle ICE Processing Center (Louisiana); Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center (Louisiana)Winn Correctional Center (Louisiana); Adams County Correctional Center (Mississippi)Prairieland Detention Center (Texas); T. Don Hutto Residential Center (Texas); and West Texas Detention Facility (Texas) 

Requesting information from ICE 

The FOIAs to ICE seek: 

  1. Complaints, grievances, and records related to documented significant incidents. 
  2. Records on officials using force, chemical agents, weapons, and other devices against individuals in ICE custody. 
  3. Reports on the use of solitary confinement. 
  4. Anonymized data for everyone held at the specific facility, including country of origin, detention duration, and release information. 
  5. Documentation and outcomes for medical and mental health requests. 

Requesting information from the Department of Homeland Security 

The Council and BAJI requested information from two DHS oversight bodies, the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG).  

The FOIAs to CRCL and OIG seek: 

  1. Summaries of complaints, grievances, or allegations received by the Offices that involve any of the eight ICE facilities, and how they were addressed. 
  2. A selection of complete complaints or allegations. 
  3. Records from an investigation of LaSalle ICE Processing Center. 

Requesting information from local entities

The Council and BAJI are also working to obtain information from the local governmental entities that contract with ICE and private prison companies to detain immigrants at these detention centers. We filed requests for information under state law in Louisiana and Texas, seeking:

  1. The contracts between the local entities and ICE and private prison companies.
  2. Records kept by the local entities about people detained by ICE at the locality under the contracts.
  3. Information about abuses at the detention center that may have been kept by the local entities.  

This FOIA suit seeks to compel ICE to release information about conditions, treatment, and outcomes in eight immigration detention facilities in the U.S. South.

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