For Immediate Release
March 17, 2016
Contact: Olga Tomchin, 402-650-2339, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond Inspections, We Need Consequences for Human Rights Violations in DHS Prisons
Los Angeles, CA–In response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) statement that it will begin conducting unannounced inspections at immigration detention centers, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and its Chant Down the Walls campaign are calling for immediate consequences for the human rights violations that are ubiquitous within DHS prisons for migrants.
For years, DHS’ OIG and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRLC) investigations almost always result in absolutely nothing. We fear that the newly announced inspections, like DHS’ many unenforced human rights standards, will be yet another way for DHS to make the appearance of taking human rights abuses seriously without any real impact for those trapped in the system.
“The Etowah jail here in Alabama is one of the darkest corners of the U.S. immigrant detention system, and one of the most glaring examples of ICE’s failed inspections process,” states Yazmin Contreras, NDLON Alabama Organizer and #ShutDownEtowah Campaign member. “Although we would welcome an unannounced inspection of Etowah, it will not be nearly enough to put an end to systemic violations including rotten and insufficient food, woefully inadequate medical care that recently led to one detained person’s death, and extremely prolonged detention.”
Other examples include the #SterilizedByICE Campaign in which Angel Rosa was deported to Guatemala by ICE immediately after CRCL officially opened an investigation into the horrific medical abuse in detention which almost led to Mr. Rosa being castrated. Angel Rosa’s deportation effectively disappeared the evidence.
Additionally, OIG began investigating in May 2015 the situation of paralyzed teenager Gerardo Corrales who almost died of infections due to medical neglect and being forced to reuse catheters in the Adelanto detention center, but he remained at risk of his life in the same detention conditions until October 2015.
Moreover, while DHS’s own investigations have found that transgender women make up a shocking 1 out of every 5 survivors of substantiated complaints of sexual abuse in detention, often at the hands of guards, ICE has only offered cosmetic fixes and continues to perpetuate transphobic abuse daily.
DHS has been and continues to be a rogue agency that acts with impunity. As OIG inevitably discovers abuses at each detention center they inspect, the prisons must be immediately shut down and OIG must certify U Visa law enforcement cooperation forms for survivors who assist in the investigations.
“Through our Chant Down the Walls campaign, we have held concerts outside of immigrant detention centers and prisons to bring attention to the injustices happening inside,” says Claudia Bautista, NDLON organizer. “We will continue using art and culture to show solidarity with those locked inside detention centers, to expose the true inhumanity of this system of cages, and to continue our efforts to Chant Down the Walls and acknowledge that our siblings in detention are also part of our community, that they have rights, and that they are deserving of hope and dignity.”