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ACLU Report on Immigrant Detention Released; ICE Responds With Promise to Investigate "Significant Acts of Abuse" Alleged by ACLU

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The Arizona ACLU released a report on conditions in Arizona immigrant-detention facilities today alleging serious abuses of detainees in the custody of private prisons and the Pinal County Jail.

 

It is titled, "In Their Own Words: Enduring Abuse in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers," and you can read it here, or check out New Times' cover story on the issue here.

The ACLU alleges that medical requests are ignored, detainee grievances are scoffed at, and immigrants are held in violation of their due-process rights for inhumane amounts of time.

ICE released a statement in response to the report reiterating its commitment to the "security and welfare" of its detainees and promising to investigate the "significant acts of abuse alleged in this report." ICE also chastised the ACLU for not vetting its allegations with ICE beforehand. Read the full statement and more after the jump.

While ICE promises to investigate the allegations of detainee mistreatment, one of the major concerns raised in the ACLU report is that the government does not take allegations of inadequate medical care or detainee abuse seriously.

To prove its point, the ACLU analyzed almost 500 grievances filed at two separate ICE facilities over the last five years to determine how many were sustained by the government. The answer was: not many.

"I don't think detainees are filing frivolous grievances," Victoria Lopez, the ACLU report's author, told New Times.

Whether this report will be handled any differently by the federal government remains to be seen.

At the end of its statement, ICE claims it "continues to work closely with the ACLU and other community-based organizations to reform the agency's detention system by prioritizing the health and safety issues, increasing federal oversight, and improving the conditions of confinement within the system."

What's interesting about that is the federal government has claimed to be in the process of "reforming" the detention system for the last 2 1/2 years and, if you believe the ACLU at least, hasn't done squat.

Meantime, here is the full text of ICE's response to the report:

ICE is committed to ensuring the security and welfare of all those in our custody, as well as to providing high quality medical and mental health care. Unfortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) chose to publish unverified allegations without providing ICE an opportunity to respond to or investigate these claims. In fact, the significant acts of abuse alleged in this report have yet to be formally reported to ICE, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General or any other law enforcement agency. Using the limited information available in the report, ICE will investigate these allegations and, if they are substantiated, take appropriate follow-up action. In the meantime, ICE continues to work closely with the ACLU and other community-based organizations to reform the agency's detention system by prioritizing the health and safety issues, increasing federal oversight and improving the conditions of confinement within the system."

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