Deaths in ICE Prisons Spike in the Wake of Trump’s Immigrant Crackdown

Earlier this year, per President Donald Trump’s executive order, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began a campaign aimed at rounding up undocumented individuals.

This began with ICE newly focusing on detaining undocumented immigrants lacking a criminal history in February. It has only escalated since. In the period between late January and late April, ICE reported arresting over 41,300 people on immigration-related charges.

This is a massive increase when compared to the same time period in 2016, when over a third fewer individuals were arrested. Those who were arrested without criminal convictions by ICE rose by more than 50 percent.

These are not the only figures experiencing a dramatic rise this year. According to one report, inmate deaths in ICE prisons have already come close to matching the total number of deaths over the course of the last fiscal year.

Eight deaths have been documented already, compared to 10 in 2016. While it might be argued that this is simply a matter of statistics – that the greater the absolute number of people held in ICE prisons, the greater the absolute number of deaths there will be – this is not accurate.

A large number of ICE facilities are run by private prison corporations; it is in these locations that the largest number of deaths occur. And this should come as little surprise, as these prisons have become well documented for their gross shortcomings.

A damning report released by the Department of Justice last year blasted the proliferation of for-profit prisons; soon after, a directive was issued to put an end to their use. Unfortunately, ICE reports to the Department of Homeland Security, not the Justice Department.

Private prisons operated by companies like GEO Group and CoreCivic have been proven to be lacking. They have a tendency to be understaffed, staffed by underqualified individuals, to be far less safe for inmates and workers alike and to have woefully inadequate medical facilities.

Seven of the eight deaths this year happened in private prisons and these deficiencies are likely to blame.

In one recent case, 27 year old Jean Jimenez-Joseph was found to have hanged himself in a prison operated by CoreCivic after having been placed in solitary confinement for 19 days. Because of a lack of proper medical treatment options on-site, he had to be driven 35 miles to the closest hospital. It is also quite possible that lack of proper supervision allowed this to happen.

In another tragic instance, an Afghani woman fleeing the Taliban and seeking refugee status was placed in a GEO Group prison in Texas. She soon tried to kill herself but did not succeed.

This revelation should serve to illustrate two important points: First, private prisons are intrinsically problematic; even if they supposedly save taxpayer dollars (they don’t) it comes at an even higher cost — lives.

Second, this should underscore the urgent need to reinforce that Congress needs to find a practical way to reform to lawful immigration. As it stands now, the process is prohibitively costly and complicated – I have explained this at some length (while debunking common talking points that attempt to justify deportation). Ultimately, doing so would be more cost effective in a variety of ways, not the least of which would be the cost of human life.

It does not matter why a person is in the United States or if they are here with legal documentation when it comes to life. Human rights should outweigh bureaucracy. Sadly, that does not seem to be the top priority when it comes to addressing immigration in this country.

This so-called crackdown on undocumented immigration in both taxpayer dollars and human life is unjust. It is not the only way forward.

Photo Credit: mikdam / Thinkstock

63 comments

Carl R
Carl R4 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
iloshechka A
iloshechka A4 months ago

thanks

SEND
Liliana G
Liliana Garcia4 months ago

The only way to make a profit and save so called tax payer money is to cut corners, very poor services, underpaid employees and inadequate physical facilities. USA has a very big problem in terms of human rights. The scope given to the media to abuse people's character and make fun is not free speech. Free speech should be to speak your mind about issues that affect you and your community or country. It has nothing to do with mocking people's physical appearance or intruding in their personal lives. The case of the con woman in Maine giving birth while shackled to bed is a case in pt, the story is right here on another thread. The fact that it still has the death penalty and the frequency of police shootings at unarmed people are quite telling as well.

SEND
Carl R
Carl R4 months ago

Thanks!!!

SEND
Janis K
Janis K4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C4 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Herbert C
Herbert C4 months ago

This article demonstrates an urgency for greater oversight of these ICE detention centers and emphasizes the need to streamline the deportation process.

SEND
Herbert C
Herbert C4 months ago

Bill E
Do you have a source for that claim? I would be especially interested in Sessions. The only thing I have found about the AG is he has invested in a Vanguard fund that contains investments in private prisons, but it was not from an entirely reputable source.

SEND
Telica R
Telica R4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Marzena B
Marzena B4 months ago

Thanks

SEND