ACLU Calls On ICE To Make Significant Reforms To Immigration Detention System

August 6, 2010

Newly Released Analysis Shows One Year After Pledging To Create "Truly Civil" System, Obama Administration Still Has Much Work To Do

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – One year after the Obama administration pledged to create a "truly civil" immigration detention system, the American Civil Liberties Union today said that significant reforms still need to be made in order for that promise to be realized.

While Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has made some progress under the guidance of its newly-established Office for Detention Policy and Planning, major improvements in four vital detention areas – mental disability, health care, sexual abuse and mandatory and prolonged detention – need to be undertaken if ICE is to make good on the stated commitment of John T. Morton, assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for ICE, to address "the vast majority of complaints about ICE's immigration detention system."

According to an analysis released today by the ACLU, an over-reliance on mandatory and prolonged detention practices continues to deny detainees the most basic element of due process by incarcerating immigrants who pose no danger or flight risk without making individualized determinations about whether they can be released on bond. The level of medical and mental health care provided to detainees continues to be substandard. Recently exposed incidents of sexual abuse of detainees by ICE contractors illustrate an urgent need for improved ICE oversight. And immigrants with mental disabilities, many without the mental competency to represent themselves, languish in detention for years.

The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, Legislative Counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"ICE deserves credit for having taken some positive steps in what needs to be an ongoing process to reform our immigration detention system. But there is still a great need for enhanced oversight and accountability. ICE's model of self-policing has proven, time and time again, to be a failure. In order to establish a truly civil detention system, ICE must promulgate detention regulations and be subject to independent external oversight."  

The following can be attributed to Vanita Gupta, Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU:

"While ICE has made some reforms in its sprawling detention system over the past year, they are insufficient. ICE detainees around the country continue to be subject to poor medical and mental health care, prolonged detention, and sexual abuse and assault. True detention reform requires that ICE address these systemic problems while cutting back on its excessive reliance on detention without due process, particularly of individuals who pose no flight risk or danger to public safety."

A copy of the ACLU's analysis is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights-prisoners-rights/aclu-analysis-obama-administrations-progress-improving-immigratio

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