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ICE use of solitary confinement in ‘violation of international norms,’ Democratic lawmakers say

By 37ci3 Mar29,2024



Like the usage solitary confinement in immigration detention A surge of centers under the Biden administration, according to federal data, has some Democratic-aligned lawmakers calling for an end to the practice or at least the creation of rules to limit it — accusing the federal government of “being transparent” in the letter. Violation of international norms”.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has “segregated individuals for months or even years in their facilities, used solitary confinement as punishment for minor infractions, and placed vulnerable individuals, including those with mental health conditions, in solitary confinement,” Massachusetts Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, and Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin he wrote in his letter on Friday Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and ICE Deputy Director Patrick Lechleitner.

Joined by eight other Democratic senators and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the lawmakers said, “ICE has not followed its own guidelines limiting both the punitive use of solitary confinement and the use of additional forms of solitary confinement.” -V.

ICE statistics show the agency arrests more than 38,000 people every day, an increase of nearly 15,000 since President Joe Biden took office in 2021.

Senators a study released last month It found that ‘segregation’, informally known as solitary confinement, was used 1,106 times in the third quarter of 2023, up 61% from the year before. Harvard University researchers and the nonprofit group Physicians for Human Rights, based on ICE’s own data, also found the agency had placed people in solitary confinement 14,000 times over the past five years for an average of 27 days. 15 days is the limit UN human rights experts We have determined that it constitutes torture.”

Philip Torrey, a clinical professor at Harvard Law School and a researcher on the study, said given the findings, they want to see ICE “end the use of segregation and at least begin a phased process to end the use.” “

Democratic lawmakers agreed in their letter that “at a minimum, DHS and ICE should issue and enforce binding regulations limiting the use of solitary confinement.”

The senators said they were particularly concerned about inmates from the most vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ people and those with mental health and chronic medical conditions.

According to data on ICE’s website, the top reasons for segregation of immigration detainees remain medical and mental health, disciplinary and protective custody issues.

Markey said he had to call on DHS and ICE to “de-escalate” after he left solitary confinement. usage reports against prisoners even for minor infractions or for going on hunger strike.

“Solitary confinement is unjust and cruel, and it’s time for our government to stop using it,” Markey told NBC News.

Senators Mayorkas and Lechleitner were asked several questions, including what steps have been taken to limit solitary confinement, how time spent there is divided by vulnerable populations, and what the agency is doing to respond to its recommendations. government accountability and control offices ensure clear and consistent policies for segregation.

DHS and ICE did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the senators’ letter or the investigation they cite.

In 2013, ICE one directive the use of allocated housing should be carefully measured.

“Segregation should occur only when necessary and in accordance with applicable containment standards,” the agency said. “In particular, placement in administrative segregation due to a specific vulnerability should only be used as a last resort and when no other viable residential option is available.”

The agency also agreed to protect transgender people 2015 memorandum.

Immigration advocacy groups remain concerned about the use of solitary confinement, saying the issue is even more important ahead of an upcoming election that could see a rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump.

One in 2019 NBC News investigation The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, along with other news organizations, found the widespread use of solitary confinement for immigrant detainees in ICE detention under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Concerns continue at detention centers linked to the Biden administration Inmates in Louisiana last year spoke to NBC News about the use of solitary confinement as a threat and punishment. The president has also been criticized for increasing the use of restrictive housing in federal prisons during his time in office. campaign to end solitary confinement except for “very limited” reasons. It was accounts was introduced last year Democrats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives largely outlaw the practice on federal prisoners and inmates.

Jesse Franzblau, senior policy analyst at the National Immigrant Justice Center, which offers legal representation for detainees, said he believes what happens in federal facilities needs to change because it is “arbitrary.”

“There are already weak standards in terms of human rights and basic humanity, and there’s not a lot of oversight and accountability by workers who just put people in solitary confinement with no way out,” Franzblau said. “When members of Congress say the government is violating its own policy, that’s what happens on the ground.”



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