Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Florida Rep.) and a group a House Democrats demand that the Biden Administration quickly close down a notorious Florida immigration prison accused of racist violence and rampant exploitation of Black immigrants who were sent there under a federal contract.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this week, the group of 17 lawmakers point to multiple complaints outlining a “systemic pattern of racially based abuse” at the Glades County Detention Center, a local jail in south Florida that contracts with ICE to incarcerate federal immigration defendants. Civil rights and ethics watchdogs suspect that the facility violated federal law by deleting surveillance footage of the abuse.
Black immigrants and civil rights organizations reported numerous human rights violations at this facility over the last year, including medical and sexual abuseDeath threats, solitary confinement and physical violence. They also expose to pepper spray and toxic fumes. The rampant anti-Blackness at Glades is evident by the racism described by detainees — including a woman who was called a “monkey” by a guard, and a man who said the facility’s director threatened to put a “noose” in his cell, accordingTo the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“People’s lives continue to be in danger every minute that the Glades Detention Center stays open,” wrote Rep. Wasserman Schultz, who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward County in Florida.
Since July 2021, ICE rescued at least 200 people from their families and communities across the country to Glades. accordingTo civil and immigrant rights organizations. Most of the ICE detainees come from Africa and are Black. About 100 of them staged hunger strikes in September. One Haitian striker said that about 100 of them had done so. Truthout After living in the United States with his family for 43 years, he was now facing deportation.
“The guards treat you however they want because nobody will say anything to them,” said one man who has been released from Glades and wishes to be identified as E.E., in a statement this week. “They treated us like we were less than human. I was a victim of abuse at Glades; I know how hard it can be there.”
E.E. According to text messages and civil rights complaints, five Black men and E.E. Truthout. It’s unclear whether the violence was related to the mass hunger strike, but under extreme duress, two of the men reportedly attempted suicide.
Advocates claim that many of those held at Glades are eligible for release. However, ICE has not yet confirmed this. chosenThey will be held in prison while their immigration cases are being heard by the courts. While federal immigration jails are often run by private prison companies, ICE also signs lucrative contracts with sheriffs in Florida and other states to hold detainees in local jails and prisons, a trend that accelerated during the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown and will continue under President Joe Biden unless policies change.
“The Biden administration has failed immigrant communities when it comes to detention and deportation,” said Rebecca Talbot, who works with the Florida-based Immigrant Action Alliance to support Glades detainees, in a statement.
Last week, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility Washington and the ACLU met. notified ICE that the Glades facility violated federal records law by deleting video footage from surveillance cameras that is likely to contain “key evidence” of inhumane conditions. The facility reportedlyThe jail is required to keep the footage for three months, according the groups. However, the federal contract with ICE requires that the jail keeps the footage for three years.
In August, Black women in the facility filed a complaintThe woman claimed that she was subject to both medical and sexual abuse. She also described guards who watched her in the shower, and a psychiatrist who abused authority to sexually harass her. The woman also claimed that she was subject to racist insults and was exposed to a toxic chemical spray that was used as a disinfectant for COVID. The Southern Policy Law Center was established in 2019. reportedGlades officers regularly use pepper spray, isolation confinement, and deprivation basic needs like food and clothes to punish people.
Fifteen immigration detainees were incarcerated at Glades as of Monday, but ICE pays the facility to hold up to 300 people under its contract with the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, according to Freedom for Immigrants. According to documents obtained by Freedom for Immigrants, the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is investigating several complaints made by advocates and Black immigrants at Glades. Truthout.
The DHS couldn’t be reached and ICE didn’t respond to email questions. The corrections department at the Glades County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the Glades jail, did not respond to a request for comment by the time this story was published.
The group of House Democrats led by Wasserman Shultz, which includes members from the Congressional Black Caucus, said the Glades County Detention Center’s contract with ICE is up for renewal in March. The lawmakers told Mayorkas that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, should “immediately” terminate the contract and shut down immigration detention portion of the facility.
“The patterns of abuse and neglect at Glades make it a death trap, and it must be closed immediately and permanently,” Talbot said. “People have died here. Countless others suffer severe long-term health damage from the endless abuse, incompetence and neglect.”