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Women’s Refugee Commission Responds to Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report on Poor Detention Conditions at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Facilities

Washington, DC — This week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released findings based on the investigation of five Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers throughout the United States. The report documents that the OIG inspections “raised concerns about the treatment and care of ICE detainees at four facilities…Overall, the problems we identified undermine the protection of detainees’ rights, their humane treatment, and the provision of a safe and healthy environment.”

These findings are consistent with the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) findings from recent visits to ICE detention facilities as well as research conducted over the past 20 years. Earlier this fall, WRC released a report, “Prison for Survivors” documenting the increase in the detention of women seeking asylum in the United States and highlighting the nearly unprecedented transformation of the immigration detention system. Alarmed by the increase in the detention of women seeking asylum, WRC visited seven detention facilities in Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico to document the conditions of detention, treatment, and obstacles to a fair asylum process faced by women. Findings by the OIG this week, such as concerns over grievance procedures, inappropriate treatment of detainees, concerns with inadequate access to hygiene products, and slow or inadequate medical care corroborate findings highlighted in “Prison For Survivors,” as well as those documented in a complaint filed this fall by WRC and partner advocacy and legal organizations on ICE detention and treatment of pregnant women.

According to Katharina Obser, Senior Program Officer at WRC:

“This week’s OIG report spells out what WRC and our partners have documented for years, making clear the critical need for greater oversight and reform. Instead, the Trump administration is intent on lowering or eliminating standards for immigration detention – putting detainees’ lives at risk – all while promising to ramp up detention on a grand scale. As Congress continues to debate DHS FY18 appropriations, the OIG’s findings show that now is not the time to expand a detention system that ICE is not capable of effectively and safely running. Detention must be reduced and, where needed, humane alternatives to detention, implemented in its place.”