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Jayapal Urging Accountability Following Reports of Mistreatment of Detained Persons at Immigration Detention Facilities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Ranking Member of the Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement Subcommittee, is leading 47 Members of Congress in calling on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide answers on the troubling treatment of individuals held in immigration detention facilities. Recent reports have detailed serious problems related to the performance of unnecessary medical procedures and the misuse of solitary confinement.

“We have a responsibility to treat all human beings with dignity and fairness,” wrote the Members. “All facilities operated by or in connection with the United States government, funded by taxpayers should reflect that. These recent reports indicate that we are falling far short of our obligations. We urge the administration to take these reports and their recommendations seriously.”

The United Nations has determined that solitary confinement lasting over 15 days constitutes torture. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its subcontractors regularly detain individuals in solitary confinement for longer periods. Reporting shows that between 2018-2023, more than 14,000 individuals were held in solitary confinement for an average of 27 days, 682 for at least three months, and 42 for over a year. 

In addition to extensive stints of solitary confinement, which has been proven to result in long-lasting physical and mental harm, the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has also published reports indicating serious concerns with medical procedures at immigration detention facilities. According to DHS OIG, between 2019 and 2021, at least 25 percent of surgeries performed at facilities run by ICE and its subcontractors were not properly approved, therefore ICE cannot confirm whether they were even medically necessary.

Specifically, the Members are calling on DHS to provide answers to how they will ensure ongoing compliance with stated policies in all immigration detention facilities, to share the status of implementation for recommendations to phase out the use of solitary confinement, and to share whether ICE plans to advise the President of recommendations for reform.

Jayapal has been an active leader on the issue of increasing accountability at immigration detention centers and phasing out the use of solitary confinement. She recently led 50 Members in calling for increased transparency over detention centers that had been recommended for closure, has called for accountability in the death of a detained person at the Northwest Detention Center who died after 1,418 total days of solitary confinement, and was a leader in ensuring accountability for more than a dozen immigrant women who underwent forced, unnecessary medical procedures at the now-closed Irwin Country Detention Center. She also leads the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which would work to reduce our overreliance on detention, end the use of detention for profit, end inhumane conditions at detention centers, and protect the civil and human rights of immigrants.

The letter was signed by Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Cori Bush (MO-01), Greg Casar (TX-35), Judy Chu (CA-28), Lou Correa (CA-46), Jason Crow (CO-06), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-12), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Teresa Leger Fernandez (NM-03), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-31), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-47),  Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Bonnie Waston Coleman (NJ-12), Nikema Williams (GA-05), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24). 

The full letter can be read here

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