Biden administration has yet to address ICE’s deadly and inhumane immigration detention system — advocates urge action

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Washington, DC — In response to President Biden’s executive orders on immigration today, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network offered the following statement: 

“While we are encouraged that the administration is prioritizing immigration as shown again by today’s executive orders, there is a critical priority that has yet to be addressed on immigration: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deadly and inhumane detention system.

Dignity, freedom, and opportunity should be at the core of our immmigration system, but our existing system does not uphold these values, instead, people are deprived of their liberty, separated from their loved ones, and put at risk in ICE custody.

ICE racially profiles and separates people from their loved ones and community everyday. While in ICE custody people are then susceptible to abusive conditions and treatment — including the recent news of  gynecological procedures without informed consent at the Irwin Detention Center in Georgia. In fiscal year 2020, 21 people died in ICE detention, the most since 2005. And just last week the first person died in ICE custody under the Biden administration, marking the ninth ICE death to occur due to COVID-19 complications. 

The previous administration’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border was a watershed moment for the cruelty and racism behind Trump’s agenda that one of today’s executive orders seeks to rectify, but if the new administration truly wants to uphold family unity and fairness as core values, President Biden must take action to dismantle the immigration detention system. 

Let's be clear, detention centers are not housing or shelter — they strip people of their dignity and deny them their freedom. Detention centers represent abuse, trauma, and sometimes death. People must be released and detention centers need to be shut down now.”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition building power through collective advocacy, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to abolish immigration detention in the United States. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level. Visit Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.