The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that it will terminate the contracts of two detention facilities accused of abusing migrants, ABC News reports.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the department would cut ties with the local government agency that runs a detention center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts and Irwin County Detention Centers in Georgia, a private facility.
The department has already moved many of the detained migrants out of the two facilities and those that remain are expected to be transferred elsewhere.
“Allow me to state one foundational principle,” Mayorkas said, “We will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.”
More to come?
Mayorkas said that terminating the contracts was part of an effort to make “lasting improvements” to the widely-criticized detention system.
ICE currently holds about 19,000 noncitizens for removal at around 200 facilities. About 73% of those detained have no criminal record.
DHS suggested that it would “review concerns” about other facilities as well.
“Today’s announcements show the Biden administration’s willingness to decisively break from the immigrants’ rights abuses of prior administrations,” Naureen Shah of the ACLU told ABC News.
The group has called to shutter 39 immigration detention facilities and called for an end to “default incarceration” of immigrants.
“Human rights violations”:
Members of Congress called for the Georgia facility to close after women last year alleged forced sterilization by doctors. The facility is still under investigation.
Immigrants at the facility also alleged coronavirus-related violations.
“Given its extensively documented history of human rights violations, Irwin should have been shut down long ago,” Azadeh Shahshahani of the advocacy group Project South told ABC.
Immigrants at the Massachusetts facility alleged excessive use of force, overcrowding, and a lack of coronavirus precautions. The state’s attorney general last year issued a report detailing the excessive force and violations of migrants’ rights.