Immigrant rights groups and private immigration attorneys have long discussed the oft-times deplorable conditions in many immigration detention facilities. Due to growing evidence pointing to the prevalence of inhumane conditions of detention, this week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), revealed that a new program will be put in place wherein unannounced inspections will be made of detention facilities in an effort to begin a remediation program to correct deficiencies and improve conditions for immigrant detainees. Some of the appalling and unacceptable conditions include: overcrowding, extreme temperatures, environmental toxins, unsanitary conditions, malfunctioning showers and toilets, rat infestations, and inadequate food, to name a few. The new inspection program announced by DHS seems to be a step in the right direction. According to the announcement, “the unannounced spot inspections are designed to assess DHS compliance with official government health, safety, and detention standards, and to examine conditions for minors at those facilities where minors are present.”
Notwithstanding some of the appalling and unacceptable conditions in many immigration detention facilities, detention in general is not too different than jail or prison. By its very nature, detention imposes serious hardships, depriving detainees of their ability to work, fulfill family obligations, take care of personal needs, and maintain relationships. These hardships, in turn, quite often lead to economic, emotional, familial, medical, and psychological harms. Detainees who have medical or psychiatric conditions have the right to appropriate treatment at ICE expense. For example, if someone has recently undergone surgery and requires regular medication, ICE is supposed to provide this medication. ICE does not always follow through on its obligations, however.
At the Shulman Law Group, our immigration attorneys often intervene and advocate on behalf of our detained clients in order to ensure that their civil rights are being protected during detention and that ICE is providing appropriate and necessary care. We visit detention centers on a regular basis and consult with detained clients in order to provide counsel regarding how to best advocate for their needs while detained in addition to discussing strategies to expedite their release dates and proactive approaches to preparing for upcoming immigration hearings. Our immigration attorneys feel a profound sense of compassion for our detained clients and understand the import of providing advocacy and support while they are being housed at an immigration detention facility.