AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Urges Further Shift Away from Detention as DHS Announces End to Contracts with Two Facilities

5/20/21 AILA Doc. No. 21052040. Detention & Bond, Removal & Relief

Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will end contracts with two detention facilities: Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, and the Bristol County Detention Center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The changes, first reported in the Washington Post, were described by officials as responding to egregious conditions and abuse at these particular facilities.

AILA President Jennifer Minear noted, “While this is good news, the reality is that many other immigration detention facilities have also been the sites of serious abuses such as sexual assault, violations of religious freedom, medical neglect, and the punitive use of solitary confinement. The conditions and treatment at Irwin County and Bristol County are, sadly, not unique and they have caused needless harm and trauma because officials failed to address known violations and reports of abuse.”

AILA Senior Director of Government Relations Greg Chen added, “This cannot be the only action taken by the Biden administration to reduce immigration detention. A review of all ICE jails to identify additional facilities for closure is long overdue, as is a comprehensive review of all people currently held in ICE custody with release for those not deemed threats. AILA has long advocated for a move away from costly, wasteful detention, which causes immense harm, depriving immigrants of liberty. We know that community-based case management including the appointment of legal representation work and should be the rule, not the exception. Finally, but just as important, ICE should not transfer the current population at these jails away from their families, communities, and attorneys only to face similar needless hardship in other detention centers. With COVID-19 infection rates in ICE detention continuing to be a serious problem, transferring people between facilities would further endanger the lives of many people in their custody, the facility personnel, and local communities.”