Washington, DC — In response to a deeply troubling report issued today by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) that exposes egregious conditions at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Torrance County Detention Facility (Torrance) in New Mexico and calls on ICE to immediately empty the facility, Setareh Ghandehari, Advocacy Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:
“This report by the Department of Homeland Security’s own OIG is damning. It adds to the overwhelming bank of evidence detailing how ICE detention is inherently cruel and abusive and confirms Detention Watch Network’s ongoing demands to release all people from ICE detention and abolish the detention system in its entirety.
In light of this horrific report, immediate action must be taken to release all people detained at Torrance and permanently shut down the facility. Details of the report include unsanitary conditions such as inoperable toilets, clogged plumbing, broken sinks and water fountains, mold, and a lack of hot water.
Today’s OIG’s findings on Torrance are not an anomaly. For years, OIG has investigated and reported on harsh conditions in the U.S. immigration detention system, but little has changed. Despite a failed inspection at Torrance by the Nakamoto Group last year, this report reveals that ICE did nothing in response and operates with impunity, failing time and time again to address the abysmal conditions inside.
ICE itself acknowledged in contract discrepancy reports in December 2020 and then again in March 2022 that CoreCivic has not demonstrated that it can provide a safe environment for people detained at Torrance, yet it continues to allow the facility to operate. ICE’s refusal to comply with the OIG’s recommendations regarding Torrance, despite its own similar findings, underscores the agency’s callous disregard for the people it detains.
No amount of ICE funding and staffing changes can fix a fundamentally inhumane system operated by an agency that has been shown time and again to systemically disregard the health and safety of the people in its custody. ICE is already funded at astronomical levels and currently has more capacity than the number of people in detention.
Regardless of ICE’s spin regarding reforms or improving conditions, we know that immigration detention is unnecessary and inhumane by design – it cannot be fixed. The Biden administration must immediately release people from Torrance, shut down the facility for good, and begin phasing out immigration detention by significantly cutting funding to ICE in his upcoming budget proposal.”
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 detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow on Twitter @DetentionWatch.