Media Contact Information
Alex Mensing, Communications Strategist
The following press release mentions suicide. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering self-harm or suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or at 988.
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – On February 24, 2023, Innovation Law Lab, New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, and Santa Fe Dreamers Project delivered a letter to the offices of:
- US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro J. Mayorkas
- Acting Deputy Assistant Director of US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Todd J. Thurlow
- El Paso ICE Field Office Director Mary De Anda-Ybarra
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Houston Asylum Office Supervisory Management and Program Analyst, Daniel Phillips; and
- the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
In the letter, they request immediate action within five days to cease and investigate the dire conditions and other abusive and retaliatory tactics employed by CoreCivic personnel at the Torrance County Detention Facility (TCDF) in New Mexico, which violate the 2011/2016 ICE Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS) and federal law. The four organizations called for:
- ICE to instruct CoreCivic to cease punishing individuals for self-reporting symptoms of suicidality with rooms that those detained at TCDF have come to call “torture rooms;”
- DHS to cease administering fear interviews at TCDF because the facility cannot physically provide a private and confidential setting for individuals conducting their fear interviews;
- DHS to issue Notices to Appear (NTAs) to all individuals currently detained at TCDF who have been subjected to the egregious due process violations described in the letter and an attached report, which include the administration of fear interviews over faulty phone lines in a non-private, non-confidential setting; the failure to provide people in detention with information about the legal process; and the failure to ensure access to language interpretation; and
- ICE and USCIS to begin a formal investigation into the violations detailed in this letter and the attached report, based on interviews with 115 men detained at TCDF from January-February 2023,1 including the physical conditions of the cells at TCDF.
The organizations further requested that, within 15 days of receiving the letter, DHS provide a response outlining a plan of action for TCDF, including the disciplinary and remedial measures that may be undertaken in response to any findings of staff misconduct.
The recent testimony of Byran [last name withheld from public for safety] while detained at TCDF exemplifies some of the mistreatment, including medical negligence, at the facility:
“I suffered multiple muscle spasms all over my body, which left me greatly fatigued. I was suffering from spasms for nearly two and a half hours starting at 11:00am. […] the nurses couldn’t do anything. They kept telling me I had to wait until 8pm for the doctor. At 1:30pm I was so exhausted from so many muscle spasms and cramps I almost fainted. They didn’t give me anything other than a Powerade and told me that they wouldn’t pay for any vitamins for me. They took me to the medical area and the nurses didn’t want to help me because there was no doctor on duty and they didn’t want to take any responsibility. They told me to wait until 8pm. When it was finally 8pm, nobody came to evaluate me or take me. At 9pm they called me, but still no doctor saw me. They just gave me a sleeping pill. I asked a nurse what it was and they told me it was a sleeping pill. That happened yesterday. At this time I still have not received medical attention.”
As of February 24, 2023, there are approximately 400 men currently detained at TCDF. From conversations with more than 100 men detained at the facility since January 2023, the organizations have come to understand that these men are asylum-seeking individuals who recently arrived in the United States and have been placed in expedited removal proceedings. All of these individuals may have legal remedies; however, many if not all have been subjected to torturous conditions and persistent and egregious due process violations.
Read the letter at https://innovationlawlab.org/media/TCDF_Letter-and-Report_02.24.23.pdf
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