The letter comes after multiple investigations into private detention facilities revealed substandard living conditions for detained people, under-staffing, and deaths of people in U.S. custody
WASHINGTON – Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Jason Crow (CO-06) led more than 100 members of Congress in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) calling on ICE to stop its use of for-profit prisons, conduct a review of its facilities and suspend its detention expansion.
Multiple investigations into these private prisons found substandard living conditions for detained people, crowding, under-staffing, and even deaths of people in custody. And while President Biden issued an Executive Order ending the Department of Justice’s use of for-profit prisons, it does not apply to immigration detention facilities.
“Studies consistently show that most people are best equipped to successfully complete their removal proceedings when they have full access to the support of their families and communities and legal representation,” said the lawmakers. “As you review the detention system, we ask that you halt the expansion of ICE detention and urge you to embrace community-based alternatives to detention.”
The immigration detention system is one that has consistently lacked accountability and transparency. Multiple studies and accounts have uncovered the poor conditions detained people have had to endure. La Palma Correctional Facility has been a notorious repeat offender for the conditions and treatment of detainees. Earlier this year, Rep. Grijalva led a letter signed by the full U.S. House Arizona Congressional Democratic delegation to DHS calling on them to immediately investigate and respond to these accounts.
Despite all these reports, ICE continues to expand its detention system at taxpayers’ expense, including its use of for-profit prisons and detention centers.
The letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Jason Crow, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Cori Bush, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Joaquin Castro, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Katherine Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Steve Cohen, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, J. Luis Correa, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Diana DeGette, Suzan DelBene, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Lloyd Doggett, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, John Garamendi, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Jahana Hayes, Steven Horsford, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sara Jacobs, Hakeem Jeffries, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Mondaire Jones, Kaiali‘i Kahele, Robin L. Kelly, Ro Khanna, Derek Kilmer, Ann Kirkpatrick, Rick Larsen, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Ted W. Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn B. Maloney, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, James P. McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Marie Newman, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone Jr., Donald M. Payne, Jr., Mark Pocan, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, David Price, Mike Quigley, Jamie Raskin, Raul Ruiz, M.D. , Bobby L. Rush, Linda T. Sánchez, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Terri A. Sewell, Elissa Slotkin, Adam Smith, Melanie Stansbury, Marilyn Strickland, Mark Takano, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Paul D. Tonko, Norma J. Torres, Ritchie Torres, Lori Trahan, Juan Vargas, Nydia M. Velázquez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Nikema Williams, Frederica S. Wilson, and John Yarmuth.
Grijalva has been a staunch advocate for ending the use of private, for-profit prisons and immigration detention centers, leading the Justice is Not for Sale Act, a bill that will bar federal, state, and local governments from contracting with private prisons and immigration detention centers.
The full letter can be found here.