In recent years, numerous reports have highlighted illegal or inhumane actions committed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in their attempts to expel illegal immigrants. Despite the severity and frequency of these abuses, any official records documenting them may soon be destroyed. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ICE officers in the past year have been given the green light by the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) to destroy thousands of records document unlawful ICE actions. As Kali Holloway reported for AlterNet, these records include information of illegal detainment of immigrants, inhumane holding conditions, sexual abuses by officers, and wrongful deaths while in ICE custody. As Holloway wrote, “ICE proposed various timelines for the destruction of these records ranging from 20 years for sexual assault and death records to three years for reports about solitary confinement.” Although murder does not have a statute of limitation, apparently documentation of it will, as long as it was committed while the victim was in ICE custody.
Systemically in detention centers from Los Angeles and Houston to Alabama and Georgia detainees endure complete isolation with no access to time outdoors and little to no communication with family. In November 2017, for example, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the case of 27 females in a Richmond, California, jail that wrote a letter detailing continual abuses they face due to their immigration status. The women reported being unable to use the restroom regularly, as well as restrictions that prevented their access to proper health care. In April, 2017, the New York Times reported that President Trump intended to curtail current regulations imposed on detention centers, in order to make way for the influx of detainees under his presidency. These plans would benefit the prison industrial system, of course, but would also likely lead to tremendous increases in inhumane conditions for detainees. Although news coverage has brought ICE abuses to public attention, no major establishment news outlet is reporting on ICE’s efforts to establish an official basis for destroying documentation that would verify accusations of its mishandling, mistreatment, abuse, and even murder of people in its custody.
Source: Kali Holloway, “ICE Plans to Start Destroying Records Detailing Immigrant Sexual Abuse and Deaths in Its Custody,” AlterNet, August 29, 2017, https://www.alternet.org/immigration/ice-plans-start-destroying-records-detailing-immigrant-sexual-abuse-and-deaths-its.
Student Researchers: Ellisha Huntoon (SSU), Katherine Epps (California State University East Bay), Kelly Van Boekhout (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Sonoma State University)