Following rampant allegations of racism, excessive force and other abuses against immigrant detainees, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced that it will be closing two “troubled” detention centers in Georgia and Massachusetts.
Julia Ainsley of NBC News has reported that “Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed ICE to terminate its contract with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and transfer migrant detainees out of the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigrant Detention Center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts.”
The directive comes just months after the Massachusetts Attorney General reported that officers in the location “used excessive force against detainees — such as flash-bang grenades, pepper-ball launchers and canines — in a clash over coronavirus testing at the facility in May 2020.”
In addition to the closure of the Massachusetts location, Mayorkas also “directed ICE to prepare to discontinue its use of the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, ‘as soon as possible.’” As we reported in September 2020, a gynecologist working at the facility has been accused of performing unnecessary medical procedures, including hysterectomies on numerous immigrant women. The case is currently under investigation by the Justice Department.
“Allow me to state one foundational principle: we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention,” Mayorkas said in a statement following the announcement.
“The ACLU, which had been pushing for the closure of the two facilities, as well as three dozen others, praised the move announced Thursday [May 20],” Ainsley reported.
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, called the move to end contracts with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office “long overdue” and a “critical step in decoupling Massachusetts law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement.”
“By shuttering detention facilities with a track record of problematic conditions and ending local collaboration with ICE, we can work together toward a fairer and more humane immigration system,” she said.
Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the ACLU, agreed and said the Irwin County Detention Center is “notorious for its dehumanizing and nightmarish conditions.”
“Today’s announcements show the Biden administration’s willingness to decisively break from the immigrants’ rights abuses of prior administrations,” Shah added.