DHS Watchdog Report Finds Mistreatment, Verbal Abuse At Facility For Illegal Immigrants (Dreamstime)
By Newsmax Staff | Monday, 05 April 2021 12:48 PM
A Department of Homeland Security facility took an average of over three days to respond to sick call requests and didn’t enforce pandemic precautions, the department’s watchdog reported.
The inspection of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Az., from August to November in 2020 found the violations and documented them in a DHS Office of Inspector General report made public March 30.
Watchdog officials directed a livestream video walk-through of the illegal immigrant holding facility, inspecting detainee housing units, the kitchen, and medical units, among other areas. Officials also reviewed surveillance footage from various places inside the facility, and interviewed ICE personnel, detainees, and facility employees.
Citing nearly 1,300 grievances from immigrants held at the detention facility, the IG said detainees depicted "an environment of mistreatment and verbal abuse," the report said, CBS News reported.
The IG said ICE is now "implementing a corrective action plan to address the concerns we identified."
The IG report found the medical unit, which was critically understaffed, took an average of 3.35 days to respond to detainee sick call requests and neglected to fill some prescriptions, the Epoch Times reported.
The facility also didn’t consistently provide required care for illegal immigrants in segregation nor did it consistently record when medicine was given or when medical visits were conducted.
The facility "did not give timely responses to most detainee grievances and, in some cases, did not respond at all," the IG report stated, Epoch Times reported.
Detainees complained to watchdog officials about alleged excessive use of force, including the use of pepper spray, pepper balls, and chemical agents — which officials confirmed had been used to end protests like the one that took place April 13, 2020, the news outlet reported.
An image from surveillance video showed facility staff deploying the agents to bring an end to the protest and was included in the report.
In a statement last week, ICE said it is "committed to ensuring that all those in our custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement," CBS News reported.
"Many practices initiated at La Palma, such as the 14-day quarantine period, resulted in reduced detainee-to-detainee exposure among the general population and this aspect was acknowledged in the OIG draft report," the agency said.
"ICE takes issue with the accuracy of other findings in the draft report which relied on uncorroborated allegations and lack of appropriate context regarding medical staffing."
CoreCivic, which helps run the facility, said the report included numerous falsehoods about the facility.
"We operate every day in a challenging environment that was made all the more difficult by a pandemic with which the entire world has and continues to struggle with," a spokesperson told CBS News. "We always appreciate the feedback and accountability that our partners provide, and we strive every day to do better in our service to them and the people in our care."