Treatment and care of detainees at facilities can be challenging and vary greatly. In accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Homeland Security conducts annual unannounced inspections of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities to ensure compliance with detention standards.
In February 2020, OIG inspected the Imperial Regional Detention Facility (IRDF) in Calexico, CA, to evaluate compliance with ICE detention standards.
During this unannounced inspection, OIG identified violations of ICE detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees, according to the watchdog’s December 18 report.
Although OIG found IRDF generally complied with the ICE detention standards regarding classification of detainees according to risk, it did not meet the standards for segregation, facility condition, medical grievances, and detainee communication. OIG determined detainees were held in administrative segregation for prolonged periods of 22 to 23 hours a day, including two detainees who had been held in isolation for more than 300 days. The inspection also revealed that parts of the facility were in poor condition, medical checks were insufficient to ensure proper detainee care, medical grievances and responses were not properly documented, and ICE communication with detainees was limited.
To address these shortcomings, OIG has made six recommendations:
- Review IRDF’s use of prolonged administrative segregation and seek alternative housing when appropriate.
- Ensure that, for detainees in administrative segregation, IRDF provides outdoor recreation and access to privileges similar to those offered to detainees in the general population.
- Require IRDF staff to complete daily face-to-face medical visits with detainees in administrative segregation to ensure detainee welfare.
- Review the IRDF facility conditions that the review identified as deficient to ensure corrective action in compliance with requirements.
- Require IRDF staff to provide written responses to medical grievances and provide copies to the detainees who filed the grievances.
- More clearly identify time, duration, and location for facility visits to ensure detainees’ regular access to assigned ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations deportation officers.
ICE concurred with all six recommendations and has already commenced work to meet them, which is expected to complete by March 31, 2021.