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‘The heat is consuming them’: Families Report Dire and Rapidly Deteriorating Conditions at Louisiana ICE Prisons

Power outages exacerbate dangerous conditions at remote ICE facilities

NEW ORLEANS – Families of loved ones detained at Jackson Parish Correctional Center in Jonesboro, Louisiana and LaSalle Correctional Center in Olla, Louisiana, two Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) migrant prisons operated by private prison company LaSalle Corrections, reported over the weekend dangerous and intolerable conditions at the facilities in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. 

The reports from family members include:

  • No A/C, extreme heat and poor ventilation: power outages have led to “suffocating” conditions. People in detention also report they do not have enough drinking water. 
  • Flooding and sewage failures: detained persons report that water is ankle-deep in some areas, with human waste in the water. 
  • ICE guards have said it may take up to two weeks to restore power.

“At this time, they have all the detainees in the yard because they all revealed themselves because they had been suffocated from the heat in the bunker since the air conditioners are not working,” reports one family with a loved one detained at Jackson Parish. 

Echoing the dangerous heat conditions, another family member said the same for LaSalle, where “the heat is consuming them.” They added, “In this country dogs are more respected than the human rights of people detained in the detention center by ICE.”

The sordid conditions now reported at the facilities present a worst-case scenario for rapid transmission of the novel coronavirus. Days earlier, families reported reckless evacuation procedures at Jackson Parish Correctional Center that potentially exposed hundreds to COVID-19. ICE has already failed to control outbreaks of the virus inside, all the while maintaining its policy of indiscriminate parole denials that keep migrants locked up with no end in sight. 

The following statement is from Luz Lopez, senior supervising attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project:

“It’s times of crises that bring out the best in us, our shared human spirit ignited by the duty to lend a helping hand to those in need. We are seeing that in Lake Charles and throughout the state of Louisiana. 

“Unfortunately, in the case of ICE, its violent agents and corporate co-conspirators deny basic human dignity to the immigrants they cage. They remain unaccountable to Congress and avert justice by any means necessary, even amid natural disasters. 

“We demand answers to the unspeakable conditions in the Louisiana ICE prisons. We must not allow this rogue agency to get away with more loss of life under its careless watch. Nobody is disposable – not ever, and not now in this time of crisis.”