ICE Plans to Start Destroying Records of Immigrant Abuse, Including Sexual Assault and Deaths in Custody

UPDATE (05/29/2018): The ACLU and partners submitted public comments opposing Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s request to the National Archives and Records Administration last year. As a result of the campaign and overwhelming opposition from the public, NARA decided to review ICE’s proposal more closely. As of now, ICE has not made a new proposal regarding the destruction of these records. Government agencies with a long and well-documented record of abuse should not be permitted to destroy records about those abuses. We will continue to keep a watchful eye for attempts by ICE and CBP to destroy records about their own wrongdoings.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently asked the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain records, to approve its timetable for retaining or destroying records related to its detention operations. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill government request for record-keeping efficiency. It isn’t. An entire paper trail for a system rife with human rights and constitutional abuses is at stake.

ICE has asked for permission to begin routinely destroying 11 kinds of records, including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody. Other records subject to destruction include alternatives to detention programs, regular detention monitoring reports, logs about the people detained in ICE facilities, and communications from the public reporting detention abuses. ICE proposed various timelines for the destruction of these records ranging from 20 years for sexual assault and death records to three years for reports about solitary confinement.

For years, advocates and communities across the country have denounced human rights abuses in the detention system. Many of the records that ICE proposes for destruction offer proof of the mistreatment endured by people in detention. Given the Trump administration’s plans to increase the size and scope of the system substantially, it is all the more disturbing that the agency wants to reduce transparency and accountability.

NARA has provisionally approved ICE’s proposal and its explanations for doing so are troubling. In cases of sexual assault and death, for example, NARA states that these records “do not document significant actions of Federal officials.” It’s hard to believe that the actions of a federal official are not significant in the death or sexual assault of an individual who is in federal immigration custody. NARA also posited that in cases of sexual assault, that the “information is highly sensitive and does not warrant retention.”

Keeping these documents available is necessary for the public to understand and fully evaluate the operation of a system that is notorious for inhumane and unconstitutional conditions affecting hundreds of thousands of people every year. Even 20 years is far too short for keeping the record of a death or sexual assault of an individual in government custody.

Recent reports by advocacy groups document sexual assaults in detention without adequate investigation or remedy, sub-standard medical care, the overuse of solitary confinement as well as threats and physical assault by custody staff. Since October 2016, there have been 10 deaths in immigration detention. Many of the records used in these reports and analyses would not have been made available without sustained public pressure to force ICE to maintain and divulge this information.

The impacts of detention are devastating on immigrants, their families and communities. For an individual who has been sexually assaulted in detention or for a family member whose loved one died in detention, having a full and thorough record of ICE’s actions, its policies and investigation can be an important step toward vindicating their rights.

If the Trump administration has its way, the number of immigrants in detention will increase, detention conditions will deteriorate further and more people will be subjected to life-threatening circumstances and denied their most basic rights. ICE shouldn’t be allowed to purge important records and keep its operations out of the public eye.

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Anonymous

And Alice, shut up you preposterous moron, that's not even what Yolanda said. I can't with you racist, incompetent, grammatically challenged idiots. I hope you all rot, I really do.

WisdomLost

Trump's administration is very pro-Israel. Whether Trump is anti-semetic or not, I can't say. His administration, however, couldn't possibly be creating "Jewish death camps".

You need to visit more "mainstream" websites. You might be hurting yourself by believing this nonsense.

Thomas Kuhn

Are you a drama queen or just got some bad drugs. Trump has done nothing other than to tell agents to do their job as written by Congress years ago. He not going after Jews, his son in law, daughter and grandchildren are all Jewish. So he is not going to do anything to hurt them.

Jeanette

I agree .this world is going to hell with trump in office .hes heartless .a Christian would not do evil

Anonymous

Gee - who responds to a comment by a rightfully concerned citizen on an ACLU site with such vitriol? Could they be ruble-purchased fascist-loving internet trolls simply miming talking points (in triplicate yet!) or are these the type of brainless bots who prefer to allow a puffed up con man to do their thinking for them? Those who ignore the obvious warnings are in denial or they are part of the problem. Let this stand as an apparently necessary reminder to those 'real Americans' out there; America is Anti Fascist, hate is wrong and history will eventually land on the side of progress.
Stand firm, Yolanda, you spoke the truth and that's why they are so angry.

Nicole

I agree with you 100% Yolanda. The people who follow him are very poor judges of character or just plain racists. The man lacks any qualities of a good man, let alone a good leader. But he has all the traits of a wannabe dictator. #RESIST Thank you ACLU.

Classical liber...

nice comment, classic foaming at the mouth angry regressive liberal logic -obsessed with interweaving this ww2, hitler, nazi clan notion that cnn said he is. None of you using the term Nazi actually know what it means or how it came to be, without you googling it... Clearly you're Not understanding that Kuschner's side of the family is jewish. and is close with Israel's PM, has had alot of jewish interaction his whole career in business. Yet he's for jewish internment or death camps.
You guys all have serious mental health issues as you fantasize with this notion that Trump waited 70 years to become a nazi racist clan member, oh, wait, whos also working for Putin, and is secretely a russian spy!? Woaw! CNN's been saying so for the last 9 months now!?.
That whole vilification or dehumanization of the man gets you off... seriously, hands in your pants, waiting for the next rachel madcow story told by msnbc to make you explode.
Trump Derangement Syndrome: Suffered by people who did NOT vote for him, and It applies to all walks of liberal life. They can't function knowing he's in charge and their loss was unimagineable..A substantial lesson in sore losing.

Anonymous

Ice got a slap on the hand for this anyway, so that's out! TOO BAD!!

Dennie

I wouldn't put anything past that evil sob, trump. Don the con, a slime , a sleaze, a porn hooker addict. A hater. A racist. An imbecile!!! No common sense. No leadership skills. No people skills. No humanity skills. Total loser. Just a narcissist who is making bucks off the presidency illegally while thumbing his nose as those who oppose him, which is most of the free world!!!! You on that trump train?!! Get ready for your big crash!!!!!!!!!! And shame on you for believing this man was sent by God. Most absurb story of the century!!!! And may God help you.
, Restore your vision, your mind and reasoning abilities. Your heart. You know. Deep inside you know the evil!!!! Don't be deceived!!!####

Jackie A.

Yolanda, you're spewing rubbish. President Trump's son-in-law is an American citizen, of Jewish decent, and his daughter has converted to Judaism. Trump has four grandchildren who are Jewish. Spreading false hoods about the American president, will not help your cause.

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