Immigrants Detained by ICE Could Soon Face Harsher Prison Conditions

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People being held in immigration detention could land in jails that could soon have far looser regulations on how to treat them, according to the New York Times. 

The paper reports that two Homeland Security officials, who spoke to them on the condition of anonymity, said new contracts with prisons that house immigrants will drop requirements for translators and standards for health care, suicide prevention, and other services:

They will make no mention of the need for translation services, for example. A current rule that detainees’ requests for medical care be evaluated by a professional within 24 hours will be replaced by a requirement that the jails merely have procedures on providing medical care.

The new contracts will require that the jails maintain policies for suicide prevention, solitary confinement and other concerns, but will not specify what those policies should contain.


The move to do away with specific regulations could be an attempt to make it cheaper and less onerous for local law enforcement authorities to offer space in local detention facilities for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to use as the administration scrambles to find prison space to keep pace with its sweeping immigration orders.

This comes a time when the federal government has pushed policies to criminalize immigrants and has made it clear the deporting undocumented immigrants is a priority.

“A decision to simultaneously abandon detention standards could have disastrous consequences for the health and safety of these individuals,” Kevin Landy, who headed the ICE Office of Detention Policy and Planning under Obama, told the Times. The office, which oversaw efforts to reform how immigrants are treated when they’re detained, will be closing under Trump.

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