ICE acknowledges previously unreported immigration detainee deaths

[JURIST] The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] acknowledged Monday that 11 deaths in immigration detention had gone unreported [press release]. ICE added 10 names to the official roster of immigration detainee fatalities [text, XLS] and acknowledged an eleventh death [press release] that occurred last week. The revelation of the additional deaths came in response to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] lawsuit seeking documents pertaining to detainee deaths. ACLU staff attorney David Shapiro said:


Today's announcement confirms our very worst fears. For too long, the system of detaining immigration detainees has been devoid of transparency and accountability. This forces us to question even further whether there are still more deaths that somehow have gone unaccounted for.

In response, ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton [official profile] directed a review of all detainee deaths to make sure there were no other omissions, saying, "[t]his is a serious matter that we uncovered and it requires an immediate response. Appropriate tracking and accounting of the deaths of individuals in ICE custody is imperative." Also Monday, Morton announced that the agency has stopped using arrest quotas [AP report] as part of the program to remove illegal aliens from the US.

Earlier this month, ICE announced plans to implement large-scale changes [JURIST report] to its immigration detention system. Morton announced the creation of an Office of Detention Policy and Planning (ODPP), which will be charged with overseeing the location and operation of detention facilities, ensuring that detainees have access to health care, and taking steps to prevent the persecution of detainees. Morton also announced that the controversial T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center [ICE fact sheet] would cease to hold families, and proposed turning it into a center for women only. Since its creation in 2003, ICE has been criticized for many of the methods it uses to capture and detain illegal immigrants. Last month, the Immigration Justice Clinic [academic website] at the Cardozo School of Law released a report [text, PDF; JURIST report] saying that immigration agents have committed numerous constitutional violations during raids on immigrants' homes.


 

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