WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the Biden administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to recommit to closing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention sites and end the system of mass ICE detention. The following is a statement from Naureen Shah, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in response to recent reports about the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley and Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana:

“We welcome news that the Biden administration has released parents and children from the South Texas Family Residential Center. ICE should never have detained immigrant families and children in the first place. This is a step in the right direction, but now ICE must shut down the facility, rather than use it to detain even more people inside. 

“We are also deeply disturbed by reports showing that the Biden administration ignored recommendations from its own experts that ICE stop detaining people at Winn Correctional Center, in light of extensive abuse documented at the facility.  The administration has the power and responsibility to immediately shut down the facility, and it should not send more people into harm's way. 

“We expect better and call on the Biden administration and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to immediately close these detention sites and recommit to ending ICE’s unnecessary and inhumane system of mass detention.”

Winn Correctional Center is one of 39 facilities the ACLU urged the Biden administration to close in an April 2021 letter and investigated reports of abuse by detained people at the Winn Correctional Center in its report, Justice Free Zones: U.S. Immigration Detention Under the Trump Administration. The ACLU represented Manuel Amaya Portillo, a disabled immigrant detained at the center, who alleged that detention officials placed him in a medical cell and gave him sedatives during an inspection–possibly because of the obvious failure to accommodate his needs. 

The ACLU has been calling on the Biden administration to end family detention since January 2021.

 

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