A new report released today by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and the law firm of Holland & Knight concludes that the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit has been systematically violating its own standards governing the detention of undocumented immigrants.
Analyzing previously unreleased documents obtained through litigation assessing the government’s compliance with 15 detention standards, the report finds “widespread and severe violations” of the standards. The standards pertain to issues such as visitation rights, legal representation, telephone access and disciplinary actions by ICE. The report also notes that reviews by the American Bar Association and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees “routinely documented violations that government reviews failed to capture, even when reviews of the same facilities conducted by the government and an independent agency occurred within a few weeks or months of each other.”
Violations overlooked by DHS included, for example, that detainees were punished more severely than allowed for minor disciplinary infractions.
Part of the problem, claim some of the lawyers involved in producing the new report, is that the DHS rules are not judicially enforceable, so there’s no way to ensure the agency follows them. Last week DHS rejected a petition by immigrants’ rights advocates to promulgate rules that would be enforceable, concluding that “Image has not been found. URL: ///Users/daphneeviatar/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/moz-screenshot.jpgrulemaking would be laborious, time consuming, and less flexible, and could impede DHS’s ability to expeditiously respond to changed circumstances.”