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:

  1. Etowah County Jail, Alabama
  2. Eloy Detention Center, Arizona
  3. La Palma Correctional Center, Arizona
  4. Adelanto Detention Center, California
  5. Desert View Annex, California
  6. Imperial Regional Detention Facility, California
  7. Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility, California
  8. Otay Mesa Detention Center, California 
  9. Yuba County Jail, California 
  10. Baker’s County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
  11. Glades County Detention Center, Florida
  12. Krome North Service Processing Center, Florida
  13. Irwin County Detention Center, Georgia
  14. Stewart County Detention Center, Georgia
  15. Allen Parish Public Safety Complex, Louisiana
  16. Catahoula Correctional Center, Louisiana
  17. Jackson Parish Correctional Center, Louisiana
  18. LaSalle ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
  19. Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
  20. Richwood Correctional Center, Louisiana
  21. River Correctional Center, Louisiana
  22. South Louisiana Correctional Center, Louisiana
  23. Winn Correctional Center, Louisiana
  24.  Bristol County House of Corrections, Massachusetts
  25. Calhoun County Correctional Facility, Michigan
  26. Adams County Detention Facility, Mississippi
  27. The Shelburne County Jail, Minnesota
  28. Otero County Processing Center, New Mexico
  29. Okmulgee County Jail, Oklahoma
  30.  Clinton County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
  31. Pike County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
  32. York County Prison, Pennsylvania
  33. Bluebonnet Detention Facility, Texas
  34. El Valle Detention Center, Texas
  35. T. Don Hutto Residential Center, Texas
  36. IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility, Texas
  37. Montgomery ICE Processing Center, Texas
  38. Prairieland Detention Facility, Texas
  39. Farmville Detention Center, Virginia