Skip to main content

Despite claims of increased transparency, accountability, and oversight, Nina Bernstein of the New York Times has unearthed more cover-ups at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  These new findings have attorneys, advocates, and the public wondering if and when ICE will make good on its promise to reform the immigration detention system in demonstrable ways.  Two issues that have recently come to light cast doubt on these promises.

ICE took an important step when it decided to be more transparent about deaths that occurred in their detention centers.  However, new information obtained by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) through a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed not only an initial lack of reporting deaths, but also a dishonest and disturbing track record of ICE officials attempting to cover up the circumstances surrounding those deaths.

In the report, Bernstein reveals numerous examples of ICE officials denying knowledge of circumstances surrounding deaths when, in fact, the officials were already planning how to cover up their mistakes.  One case revealed an attempt to falsify records.  Medical officials claimed they gave a patient medication when, according to medical records, he was already deceased.  Other cover-up attempts include ICE trying to use a "humanitarian release" in order to let a detainee die outside of ICE custody as well as an attempt to deport a man before he died of brain injuries suffered while in ICE custody.  Despite these cover-ups, many of the ICE officials responsible remain employed under the new administration.   As Bernstein states, full transparency remains unlikely as long as the only organization overseeing ICE is ICE itself.

Related and perhaps even more secret are the 186 unlisted and unmarked ICE subfield offices around the country.  Officially, these offices are designed to house and confine individuals in transit to detention centers, with 84% of all book-ins going through these subfield offices.  In practice, however, these subfield offices are being used to more permanently hold individuals in ICE custody.  Because the subfield offices are only designed to be temporary holding facilities, they are not subject to ICE detention standards.  This means the facilities have no beds, showers, drinking water, soap, toothbrushes, or sanitary napkins.

In addition, those individuals in custody lucky enough to have legal counsel are often unable to contact them, and their attorneys have trouble locating their clients.  ICE has no real time database to keep track of individuals held in subfield offices, meaning both attorneys and even ICE officials have trouble locating individuals in custody.  Adding to the accountability issue is the fact that most of the subfield offices are unmarked, containing no flags or signs.  This lack of identification prompts more questions about an organization that is trying to become more transparent.  As to whether ICE is attempting to reform this practice, the answer appears murky at best.

Until these and other issues are addressed—such as making ICE detention standards regulatory, especially when using outside contractors—advocates are rightfully calling ICE’s bluff.  Real transparency must be backed up by real oversight, especially when it comes to detention centers.

Originally posted to ImmigrationPolicyCenter on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 01:10 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site