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

I was visiting USA as a tourist and with a visa. I enter through Texas and I was held in one of those camps for two week, and it was hard an violent.

Anonymous

LIAR

Anonymous

Can we still comment to NARA? Do you have a link?

Anonymous Lisa

You enormous idiots, "Jewish death camps" is an "analogy" that associates treating those one considers different, with hate and ill-treatment with Hitler's regime. "Jewish" is not the point. Discriminatory hate and ill-treatment is. Trump is killing us, with several things — including the highest US debt in history at 21 trillion, absolute disregard for the environment (US air quality has declined rapidly since his post) and terrible treatment of immigrants (while being married to one). Godspeed, people, it won't be long before America is completely destroyed or hands its ass to Korea, whichever comes first.

Anonymous Keith

You still mad he won? He has done more for this country....
Not, what OBUMER did. NOTHING BUT, TRYING TO MAKE AMERICA MORE EQUAL IN THE WORLD HE WANTED.
Have you ever been to a NAZI DEATH CAMP. I HAVE. YOU DON'T HAVE A CLUE.
Not What Americans want. STRONG COUNTRY< #MAGA>

Anonymous

MORE LYING

Bud Hawthorne

Specifically what? Use the text: "I find [such and such] questionable, and I have looked into the matter [in the following manner]." You are grunting rather than arguing. Engage the frontal lobe.

Anonymous

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. YOU DON"T KNOW ENOUGH TRUTH TO REPORT IT.

Bud Hawthorne

Dear Anonymous Bigots and Supposedly Naturalized Citizens: I have noticed a recurring theme among certain, not so cleverly disguised commentators responding to this article--a concern that the ACLU's chief concern is in tarnishing Trump's spotless name while upholding that of previous presidents, specifically of democratic affiliation. You would put forth that all of this effort for safer, more accountable conditions of detainees is simply some political stunt, on the part of this organization, rather than a real fight for human rights in a country esteemed on paper for providing exactly that. Look at the date of the following Supreme Court hearing, dealing with lengthy incarceration of asylum seekers, survivors of torture, etc: https://www.aclu.org/news/supreme-court-hears-arguments-aclu-immigration-detention-case

So good news! You needn't worry that an organization in place and fighting tirelessly by the writ of Constitution here in the US of A since the nineteen FUCKING twenties is suddenly involved in some paranoid monkey chant hallucination you woke up sweating to after an end of times Mountain Dew binge, Fox News catheters in every orifice.

Pull something out and let something else in, just for a second--WIkipedia can tell you about the ACLU. It's not a press, it's not a political office, and while they may not line up with your political views, they have continued in their efforts no matter which of our supposedly distinct two parties happened to be in place at the time of a given human rights atrocity.

As you were--resume grunting--just not about partisanship, not here, it's irrelevant.

Anonymous

The comments are a joke you idiots are so quick to jump on the hate Trump train that you didn't even ck. any thing well guess what that request was put in just when Trump was taking Office. And that group wanted to have those records destroyed going all the way back 20 years so you all tell me what Presidents were in Office it sure the fuck wasn't Trump.

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