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Report: Obama Administration Fails to Clean-Up Deeply Flawed Immigration Detention System

Published: Mar 26, 2012 11:15 am

NYU's School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic in cooperation with the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees has issued a report about the Obama administration's failed efforts to reform the immigration detention system in Essex County New Jersey.  They reviewed two facilities, Delaney Hall and the Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF).  They found that both detention facilities fail to meet the bare minimum of humane treatment and due process. 

The report also found that not only has the Administration broken their 2009 promise to meaningful review the system, they have taken steps to expand it.

Here are the key findings of the report:

  • The current conditions for immigrant detainees in Delaney Hall and ECCF do not fully comply with the ICE Performance-Based National Standards for 2008 or for 2011.  
  • Although the purported purpose of immigration detention is not punishment but rather ensuring the appearance of immigrants at removal proceedings, the lack of liberty and conditions of immigrant detainees in Essex County, NJ mirror those of inmates in prison facilities for serious crimes.
  • In 2011, the number of immigration detention beds in Essex County increased by 150 percent from 500 to 1,250 detainees per day. Essex County now holds over half of all immigrant detainees in New Jersey.
  • Immigrant detainees in Delaney Hall and ECCF are not treated with the human dignity and respect they deserve. Many reported verbal abuse and mistreatment from guards and jail staff.
  • During 2011, immigration detainees in ECCF filed 158 written grievances. These grievances included allegations of mistreatment from ECCF staff, inadequate access to special diet meals, and delayed or unanswered requests for medical attention.
  • According to written grievance records, ECCF has been in violation of at least five detention standards in 2011 concerning medical attention, food service, religious services, access to legal counsel, and visitation services.
  • From October 2011 through December 2011, detainees in Delaney Hall filed 46 written grievances. These included allegations of mistreatment from Delaney Hall staff, cold dormitories and inadequate blankets during the winter, and unacceptable food quality. 
  • According to written grievance records, Delaney Hall has been in violation of at least five detention standards in 2011 concerning medical attention, food service, religious services, access to legal counsel, and visitation services.
  • In both ECCF and Delaney Hall, violations of detainees’ rights to due process and access to justice were reported including obstacles to detainees contacting their attorneys after transfers and the negative impact of video conferencing on attorney-client confidentiality and due process rights.
  • These conditions underscore the need for oversight of ECCF and Delaney Hall, and lend support to the community’s criticism of the lack of transparency through which ICE, Essex County, and Community Education Centers contracted to expand detention in these facilities.

So here is the bottom line, not only has the Obama administration completely failed to address the acknowledged problem that immigrants are being abused in substandard detention facilities, but their deportation policies have jammed more immigrants into the system than at any time in history. It should be noted that a significant percentage of the individuals being detained by the Administration have no criminal grounds of removability, and have been merely charged with civil immigration violations.

Another epic fail from the office of the Deporter in Chief.

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