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Saturday, May 25, 2024

OIG Reveals Results of Inspection of Northwest ICE Processing Center in Tacoma, Washington

Northwest discontinued use of its detainee voluntary work program in October 2021 because of an August 2021 court ruling requiring the facility to pay detainees minimum wage.

During an unannounced inspection of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Northwest ICE Processing Center (Northwest) in Tacoma, Washington, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the facility complied with standards. These included intake and classification; facility conditions, including housing and hygiene; detainee access to law library and legal services; recreation; segregation; use of force; and providing timely responses to detainee requests. OIG said Northwest also complied with COVID-19 protocols and requirements set forth by a Federal court order. 

However, the Inspector General noted that Northwest did not always provide timely responses to detainee grievances and did not always respond to detainee requests and grievances in a language understood by the detainee. Further, OIG found that Northwest had an incomplete food inventory control system and did not always practice sound food storage practices. 

OIG’s medical contractors found more than 30 percent of the facility’s medical staff positions were vacant, preventative screening practices were not consistently applied, and the facility was not immediately able to locate the emergency delivery kit. 

In addition, Northwest discontinued use of its detainee voluntary work program in October 2021 because of an August 2021 court ruling requiring the facility to pay detainees minimum wage. The facility elected to not pay detainees minimum wage and instead use a combination of third-party contractors, local janitors, and temporary duty janitorial staff to do the work previously done by detainees in the work program. During OIG’s site visit, the kitchen duties were performed by existing facility staff and cleaning services were provided by local janitorial staff. The facility administrator told OIG that the facility’s cleanliness declined immediately after Northwest discontinued the voluntary work program. 

OIG’s other findings included that ICE paid for unused bedspace because Northwest’s detainee population did not meet the guaranteed minimum outlined in the facility’s operating contract. Northwest staff also said that vendors at local airports refuse to work with ICE, compelling ICE to fly detainees into an airport 3.5 hours away for transport to the facility.

OIG has made eight recommendations and CBP has concurred with the majority of these and set out actions underway or planned to meet them, including the hiring of additional clinical personnel.

Read the full report at OIG

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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