Saturday, May 25, 2024

DHS Orders Relocation of Detainees at Understaffed & Unsanitary ICE Facility

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has called for all the detainees from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in New Mexico to be immediately relocated because of unsanitary conditions and staff shortages.

A “management alert” was issued for the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia, New Mexico, after DHS inspectors found unsanitary conditions and staff shortages that created health and safety risks for migrants detained at the facility. Management alerts, only issued on rare occasions, indicate that immediate action by an agency is needed.

The inspectors found clogged toilets, water leaks, mold, broken sinks, and faucets that did not have hot water. Broken sinks and COVID-19 restrictions resulted in detainees drinking water from a communal area faucet normally used to fill mop buckets.

During their visit, DHS inspectors also found critical staffing shortages. While they should have 245 full-time staff, the Torrance facility only had 133 full-time employees, 54% of the requirement. Most of the vacancies are in the security area.

The facility is owned and operated by CoreCivic, a private company that manages housing for ICE.

The Inspector General is required by law to do surprise inspections of the various ICE facilities around the U.S. This marks the first time a DHS Inspector General calls for the immediate relocation of detainees from a facility. ICE, however, believes the facility follows detention standards and that the recommendation is unnecessary.

“I’m hopeful that the Department, in coordination with CoreCivic, can quickly address the underlying conditions that led to our recommendation,” stated DHS Inspector General, Joseph Cuffari.