A report by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general has found that immigration and customs officials mistreated illegal immigrants held in facilities around the country. But the ACLU and others have criticized the report, charging that it ignored the most serious allegations.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and contractors denied timely medical treatment to some of the immigrants, failed to disclose and justify disciplinary actions against them, and improperly limited access to relatives, lawyers and immigration authorities, according to the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
Detention officers failed to establish a system to report abuse and violated health and safety rules by neglecting to monitor prisoners on hunger strikes or suicide watches and by serving undercooked food, the report said.
Critics of the agency called the report disappointing, contending that it watered down recommendations and ignored the most serious allegations of abuse collected since June 2004, which they said included physical beatings, medical neglect, food shortages and mixing of illegal immigrants in administrative custody with criminals.
“It took two years for them to come out with this? It’s incredibly disappointing,” said Judy Rabinovitz, a lawyer with the ACLU immigrants rights project.
Eric Lerner, a spokesman for the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee, called the report a “whitewash” that was delayed to suppress controversy. Bryan Lonegan, a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society in New York City, said that DHS has not designated 38 detention standards implemented since 2000 as federal regulations, making them unenforceable.
A spokeswoman for Richard L. Skinner, the DHS inspector general, said the report was delayed because its scope was reduced.