May 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DHS closing two ICE detention centers after allegations of abuse

Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that it will close two ICE detention centers that are under federal investigation over allegations that migrants have been mistreated.

The big picture: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed ICE to "discontinue use" of the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, as well as the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia.

Driving the news: The move comes several months after the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office found that the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office's use of force at the facility was "excessive and disproportionate."

  • The BCSO is said to have deployed pepper spray, extended range batons, and flash bang grenades against detainees.
  • The Georgia detention center faces allegations that one of its doctors performed unnecessary medical procedures on female detainees, including hysterectomies, per NBC News.

In addition to terminating the use of the Massachusetts facility, DHS said that ICE will end its contract with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office.

  • People detained in these facilities will be transferred to other detention centers, DHS said.
  • The directive from Mayorkas included the preservation of evidence for investigations at the Georgia facility.

What they're saying: “Allow me to state one foundational principle: we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention," Mayorkas said in a memo to ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson.

  • "Decisive actions to end these agreements and stop the detention machine must follow," the ACLU tweeted regarding the announcement.
  • "This is a just and humane step, and a victory for the detainees, families, lawyers, and advocates who pushed for accountability," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson called Thursday's announcement "nothing but a political hit job," per NBC News.

  • "Shame on Department of Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas for putting his left-wing political agenda above public safety by ending the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement," Hodgson said.
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