ACLU pushes for immigrant detention center in Acadiana to shut down

Louisiana

(KLFY) — Protesters have been fighting against the mistreatment of detainees at the Pine Prairie Immigration Processing Facility for over a year, but now civil rights groups are getting involved.

They’re urging the Biden administration to not only shut down the I.C.E. center in Pine Prairie, but across the nation.

Their call to action comes after dozens of immigrants being detained at the Pine Prairie I.C.E. facility in Evangeline Parish raised concerns about the misuse of solitary confinement.

The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, of Louisiana says detainees at the facility are being thrown into solitary confinement illegally.

Detainees say if they show symptoms of COVID-19, they’re thrown in solitary to isolate them.

They also say if they complain about the lack of sanitation, they’re put in solitary as a form of retaliation.

The ACLU says the misuse of solitary confinement and the mistreatment of ice detainees has been an issue for decades, but the coronavirus pandemic brought those concerns to a head.

Civil rights groups are now fighting to shut down all I.C.E. centers here in Louisiana.

“Nobody wants to think that detention centers in the United States of America ensure that the individuals are getting expired milk, are in a situation where folks have food that are infested with ants and bugs, where individuals are placed in solitary confinement for 45 days on end,” Nora Ahmed with the ACLU said.

Ahmed says that’s exactly what’s happening at the I.C.E. facility in Pine Prairie and across the country.

“Once we as a country detain a human being, we have to make sure that they have access to food, that there is access to sanitation,” she said.

She says that’s not happening, and when detainees speak up, they’re punished by being thrown in solitary for weeks.

“We’re talking about the convention against torture, which the United States has ratified. The fact that we are treating immigrants in detention in this way is unfortunately tantamount to torture in certain respects,” Ahmed said.

She says this is an issue, but what’s even more problematic is that the immigrants being detained have no due process to fight back.

That’s why the ACLU and dozens of other civil rights groups are filing federal complaints to have ice facilities like the one in Pine Prairie shut down.

“As long as torture remains on the low, its very hard to motivate people, including government officials, to ensure that they are holding I.C.E. officials and these private contractors accountable,” she told News Ten.

News Ten did reach out to I.C.E. about detainee’s allegations that they are being mistreated.

An I.C.E. spokesperson provided this statement:

“ICE is committed to ensuring the welfare of all those in the agency’s custody, including providing access to necessary and appropriate medical care. Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay. All ICE detainees receive medical, dental and mental health intake screening within 12 hours of arriving at each detention facility, a full health assessment within 14 days of entering ICE custody or arrival at a facility, and access to daily sick call and 24-hour emergency care. Pursuant to its overarching commitment to the welfare of those in the agency’s custody, ICE spends more than $315 million annually on the spectrum of healthcare services provided.”

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