Black Immigrants Denied Basic Necessities, Medical Care & Abused
NEW ORLEANS, La. – Black migrant survivors of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and immigration advocates at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) are urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fire contractors and staff over racial discrimination and abuse of individuals held at Allen Parish Public Safety Complex and Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, both in Louisiana. The complaints are the latest in a series of filings that illustrate the horrific abuses individuals detained in these facilities have faced for years.
The complaint, made to DHS, was filed by Black migrant survivors of ICE detention and attorneys and advocates with the SPLC’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) today. One of the detention centers is run by the GEO Group and the other is run by the Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“The fact that these brave individuals are willing to come forward after they have been released from immigration detention and are no longer under ICE’s power and control speaks volumes,” said Rose Murray, a SIFI attorney. “As a result of their horrific experiences, they feared for their well-being and even their lives. Every day it grows clearer that these facilities are incapable of operating without violating the rights of those detained as well as U.S. and international laws. Swift action must be taken to shut down these prisons, safely release those detained by ICE and end ICE detention.”
The complaint details the experiences of four previously detained individuals illustrating the abuses they faced, which are representative of trends across the New Orleans ICE Area of Responsibility and ICE detention broadly. According to the complainants, ICE, Geo Group and Allen Parish officials denied Black immigrants basic human necessities, including potable water and necessary medical treatment; physically abused detained persons, including physical abuse of a person in detention while he experienced a mental health crisis; threatened lethal force against Black immigrants in ICE custody; threatened Black immigrants with punitive solitary confinement in retaliation for peacefully expressing their rights and for their support of the Black Lives Matter movement; and ignored written grievances related to racial tensions between detention officials and immigrants in detention.
In a contemporaneous statement included in the complaint, Mr. Kem, a 40-year-old father from Cameroon, who came to the U.S. seeking asylum and who was imprisoned by ICE for one year and three months shares threats he endured, “…I said, ‘in what way? Just standing for our rights? How does that mean that we are trouble-makers? He said ‘don’t try it here, because I have my gun.’ And he said it twice. Not just once. He was threatening us. With that he keeps us…we are not safe here. I don’t really think that we are safe here…is this where they kill people? What do they do here to people that are, as he said, ‘stubborn’? Later on, other detainees told us this is normally how the people are being threatened, and they will threaten you within the corridors where there are not cameras.”
The actions described are in direct violation of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; ICE’s own policies within the Performance Based National Standards 2011 (PBNDS 2011), Federal Non-Discrimination Laws, Louisiana state laws against assault and battery; and international human rights law, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, both of which the United States has ratified;. Importantly, the described conduct, patterns, and practices also run afoul of contracting and acquisition laws and regulations, and thus provide a basis for immediate contract cancellation at these sites.