The ACLU today called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas to close 39 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, including the Bristol County Detention Center in Massachusetts.
“The Biden administration has inherited a shameful system, but it also has an opportunity to make a lasting impact by closing immigration detention facilities and drastically decreasing the number of people held in detention,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Our immigration system locks up hundreds of thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, separating people from their loved ones and exposing detainees to inhumane conditions of confinement. Let’s be clear: Our immigration detention system is a problem, not a solution.”
The ACLU is calling on the Biden administration to close detention facilities that meet the following criteria: the facility was opened without adequate justification, as found by the Government Accountability Office; the facility is in violation of ICE’s own process for obtaining new detention space; the facility is in remote locations with compromised access to legal counsel and external medical care; or there are documented patterns of inhumane treatment or conditions.
Media reports, lawsuits, and community complaints have documented poor treatment of immigrants detained at Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) facilities under Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. Most recently, the Massachusetts Attorney General found that the BCSO violated the civil rights of detained people by using excessive force during a violent incident in May 2020. As a result, the Attorney General recommended that DHS terminate ICE’s contracts with BCSO “as expeditiously as possible.” The Massachusetts Senate subsequently found that, following that incident, BCSO unlawfully barred a state senator from conducting an oversight visit to the facility. The ACLU of Massachusetts has sued the BCSO for records about that incident, which resulted in the hospitalization of three detainees. BCSO is refusing to release those records.
Additionally, BCSO’s immigration detention unit has already been substantially depopulated, and there is no practical justification for its continued existence.
“The Biden administration was elected with a mandate to fix our broken immigration system, and immigrant detention is an early test of its resolve,” said Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the ACLU. “Closing detention sites should be a no-brainer. Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted to maintain thousands of empty beds and keep asylum seekers and immigrants in inhumane and life-threatening conditions. The number of detained people is currently lower than it’s been in two decades: President Biden has a unique moment to shrink the infrastructure that’s been used to abuse and traumatize immigrants for decades. It’s time to end our nation’s newest system of mass incarceration of Black and Brown people.”
Fiscal Year 2020 was the deadliest year in ICE detention in 15 years. Last year alone, there were reports of increased use of force, solitary confinement, patterns of sexual abuse, forced sterilization, and an utter failure to protect people from COVID-19. ICE’s extreme recklessness in handling the COVID-19 virus showed the blatant disregard it had for the health and wellbeing of detained people, as well as the extent to which it was willing to lie or obfuscate to avoid accountability.
The ACLU of Massachusetts also supports local legislation to further end local collaboration with federal deportation efforts.
Below is the full list of facilities the ACLU is calling to shut down:
- Etowah County Jail, Alabama
- Eloy Detention Center, Arizona
- La Palma Correctional Center, Arizona
- Adelanto Detention Center, California
- Desert View Annex, California
- Imperial Regional Detention Facility, California
- Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility, California
- Otay Mesa Detention Center, California
- Yuba County Jail, California
- Baker’s County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
- Glades County Detention Center, Florida
- Krome North Service Processing Center, Florida
- Irwin County Detention Center, Georgia
- Stewart County Detention Center, Georgia
- Allen Parish Public Safety Complex, Louisiana
- Catahoula Correctional Center, Louisiana
- Jackson Parish Correctional Center, Louisiana
- LaSalle ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
- Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
- Richwood Correctional Center, Louisiana
- River Correctional Center, Louisiana
- South Louisiana Correctional Center, Louisiana
- Winn Correctional Center, Louisiana
- Bristol County House of Corrections, Massachusetts
- Calhoun County Correctional Facility, Michigan
- Adams County Detention Facility, Mississippi
- The Shelburne County Jail, Minnesota
- Otero County Processing Center, New Mexico
- Okmulgee County Jail, Oklahoma
- Clinton County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
- Pike County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
- York County Prison, Pennsylvania
- Bluebonnet Detention Facility, Texas
- El Valle Detention Center, Texas
- T. Don Hutto Residential Center, Texas
- IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility, Texas
- Montgomery ICE Processing Center, Texas
- Prairieland Detention Facility, Texas
- Farmville Detention Center, Virginia