"Years of work on site made this possible": Immigrants finally moved from the notorious ICE facility
Maura Finn, senior attorney for the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said the "measures reflect a promise to ensure that an immigrant imprisoned at the ICDC is not mistreated," but expressed disappointment that he did so detained immigrants are not simply released – which ICE has every means to do – officials instead moved detained immigrants to other facilities.
This isn't exactly the best public health move in an ongoing pandemic. In addition, some imprisoned immigrants have been sent to sites that also contain human rights abuses.
"Moving people from Irwin to another abusive facility, like the Stewart Detention Center, which had one of the highest death tolls in the country, is directly contrary to Minister Mayorkas' promise," said Finn. In announcing the termination of Irwin's contract in May, Mayorkas had told the Biden government that would “not condone the mistreatment of persons in civil immigration detention or poor detention conditions”. But as Tina Vasquez reported for Prism in February: "Medically vulnerable immigrants detained in Stewart have been subjected to excessive violence by the guards, including incidents where guards removed disabled immigrants from wheelchairs and "tossed them onto the floor."
"It is even more worrying that some people, including those at risk, are being sent from facility to facility – especially given the recent COVID-19 surges across the country, particularly in the southeast. Finn continued. "This practice blatantly violates CDC guidelines that limit the transfer of detainees to certain conditions such as preventing overcrowding or providing clinical care." Finn said that ICE also fails to prosecute particularly vulnerable people "and continues to put them at risk in this inhuman and unnecessary system of immigrant detention".
The irresponsible renditions of ICE have directly exacerbated the caseload within the ICE detention system – just look at you the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington.
"Over 240 people have tested positive in the detention center since early June, including nearly two dozen employees," lawyers said. "The outbreak only occurred after ICE began transferring detainees from the southern border to NWDC without testing them first, which led to a dangerous situation." A judge ruled that ICE must now test imprisoned immigrants for COVID-19 before they are transferred to the NWDC. That seems like common sense that ICE lacks.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the federal investigation into Irwin continues as the facility sees the end of its ICE contract in a few days. The report found that a local Republican official was allegedly “appalled” by the Mayorkas announcement, saying that Irwin's “contract was closed on the 17th. Just note that the federal government, as in the case of the previous president's stupid and racist border wall , has the option to terminate a contract for any reason. It can be expensive, but it can do it – and it should keep canceling ICE agreements, proponents said.
Azadeh Shahshahani, Head of Legal and Advocacy for Project South, "described last week's development as an 'important victory' resulting from 'years of organizing and uncovering the violations'," the report added. She said the lawyers "will not rest until the survivors have some redress for the pain they have suffered and until all detention centers, including Stewart, are closed".