Tags: Biden Administration | Immigration | Joe Biden | ice | detainees | ilhanomar | democrats

Rep. Ilhan Omar Leads Effort to Stop ICE Contracts With Private Prisons

Rep. Ilhan Omar Leads Effort to Stop ICE Contracts With Private Prisons
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Monday, 15 March 2021 06:26 PM

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Monday sent a letter signed by 23 other Democrats urging the Biden administration to prevent the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from contracting with state and local jails, pointing to poor conditions and the for-profit nature of the facilities.

The letter, addressed to Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice and Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas, thanks President Joe Biden for his executive order on Jan. 26 to phase out the use of private prisons, but called on expanding the order to facilities contracted by ICE as well.

"We support the calls from more than 70 Congressional offices to expand this Executive Order to incorporate privately operated immigration detention facilities under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)," the members wrote, saying that the private jails "are not the only instance in which financial incentives fuel needless expansion of immigration detention.

"We urge the Biden administration to release an additional Executive Order announcing a plan to phase out contracts between ICE and state, county, and local jails and prisons," the letter says.

Omar cites a 2019 Brookings Institute report that said 49% of people in detention by ICE were being held in jails owned by counties and 14% by cities and municipalities.

"In some cases, localities subsequently sub-contract services for operating detention facilities to private prison companies," according the letter. "In other instances, localities reserve space in local, county, or state jails and prisons for the purposes of detaining immigrants. In all cases, localities are financially incentivized to detain immigrants."

Those facilities, they said, "mirror the systemic abuses in privately operated immigration detention facilities, including medical neglect, long term use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, and lack of access to legal counsel."

Additionally, the letter charges, instances of medical neglect, including failure to follow public health protocols have led to spread of COVID-19 among detainees.

"This includes the Morrow County Jail in Ohio, in which 100% of all immigrants tested positive for COVID-19, after county officials used expired thermometers to conduct temperature checks and failed to implement even basic medical quarantining procedures," Omar writes.

Another example of "abuse and retaliation" cited included an alleged incident at the Bristol County jail in Massachusetts in which "the Sheriff's office unleashed dogs and pepper spray against detained immigrants, resulting in at least two hospitalizations."

"We urge the Biden-Harris administration to immediately enact an additional Executive Order to phase out contracts or agreements between ICE and/or the USMS with states, counties, and municipalities for the purposes of immigration detention,” the letter concludes.

Signers include Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo.; Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

Biden's Jan. 26 action ordered the DOJ not to renew contracts with private prisons that would affect 14,000 out of 152,000 federal inmates that are currently incarcerated.

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Politics
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Monday sent a letter signed by 23 other Democrats urging the Biden administration to prevent the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency from contracting with state and local jails.
ice, detainees, ilhanomar, democrats
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2021-26-15
Monday, 15 March 2021 06:26 PM
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