During our unannounced inspection of Otay Mesa in San Diego, California, we identified violations of ICE detention standards that compromised the health, safety, and rights of detainees. Otay Mesa complied with standards for classification and generally provided sufficient medical care to detainees. In addressing COVID-19, Otay Mesa did not consistently enforce precautions including use of facial coverings and social distancing. Overall, we found that Otay Mesa did not meet standards for grievances, segregation, or staff-detainee communications. Specifically, Otay Mesa did not respond timely to detainee grievances and did not forward staff misconduct grievances to ICE as required. In addition, Otay Mesa was not consistently providing required services for detainees in segregation including access to recreation, legal calls, laundry, linen exchange, mail, legal materials, commissary, and law library. Further, ICE did not consistently respond to detainee requests timely and did not specify times for visits with detainees. Finally, we determined the declining detainee population at Otay Mesa caused ICE to pay more than $22 million for unused bed space under a guaranteed minimum contract. We made seven recommendations to ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations to ensure the San Diego ERO Field Office overseeing Otay Mesa addresses identified issues and ensures facility compliance with relevant detention standards. ICE concurred with six recommendations and non-concurred with one recommendation.
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Executive SummaryReport NumberOIG-21-61Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyFiscal Year2021
ICE’s Management of COVID-19 in Its Detention Facilities Provides Lessons Learned for Future Pandemic ResponsesExecutive Summary
ICE has taken various actions to prevent the pandemic’s spread among detainees and staff at their detention facilities. At the nine facilities we remotely inspected, these measures included maintaining adequate supplies of PPE such as face masks, enhanced cleaning, and proper screening for new detainees and staff. However, we found other areas in which detention facilities struggled to properly manage the health and safety of detainees. For example, we observed instances where staff and detainees did not consistently wear face masks or socially distance. In addition, we noted that some facilities did not consistently manage medical sick calls and did not regularly communicate with detainees regarding their COVID-19 test results. Although we found that ICE was able to decrease the detainee population to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, information on detainee transfers was limited. We also found that testing of both detainees and staff was insufficient, and that ICE headquarters did not generally provide effective oversight of their detention facilities during the pandemic. Overall, ICE must resolve these issues to ensure it can meet the challenges of not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but future pandemics as well. We made six recommendations to improve ICE’s management of COVID-19 in its detention facilities. ICE concurred with all six recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-58Issue DateDocument FileOversight AreaKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
Although ICE had controls in place that required Capgemini Government Solutions, LLC to provide qualified labor, ICE did not properly construct or monitor the contract. This occurred because ICE awarded a firm-fixed-price contract but required a labor-hour performance measurement to monitor and track work hours, which was not appropriate for this type of contract. The contractor also did not provide the number of staff ICE required for specific labor categories. As a result, ICE cannot ensure it received all services, and it overpaid $769,869 in labor costs. Finally, ICE did not ensure the contractor met statement of work requirements for staff skill sets, education, and work experience, nor did it ensure all contractor staff worked at the designated place of performanceReport NumberOIG-21-57Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
During our unannounced inspection of Adams in Natchez, Mississippi, we identified violations of ICE detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees. Although Adams generally provided sufficient medical care, we identified one case in which the medical unit examined a sick detainee but did not send the detainee to the hospital for urgent medical treatment, and the detainee died. We also found the medical unit did not document outcomes of detainee sick calls or ensure proper review and follow-up of detainee test results. In addressing COVID-19, Adams took some measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but detainees did not consistently follow some guidelines, including use of facial coverings and social distancing, which may have contributed to repeated COVID-19 transmissions. Adams did not meet standards for classification, grievances, segregation, or staff-detainee communications. Specifically, we discovered a low custody detainee comingled with higher custody detainees, and found the facility did not always identify detainees with special vulnerabilities or those requiring translation services. Adams also did not respond timely to detainee grievances and was not consistently providing required care for detainees in segregation including access to recreation, legal calls, laundry, linen exchange, mail, legal materials, commissary, law library, and to ICE forms and drop-boxes for detainees to make requests. In addition, ICE did not consistently respond to detainee requests timely. Finally, we determined the declining detainee population at Adams resulted in ICE paying more than $17 million for unused bed space under a guaranteed minimum contract. We made seven recommendations to ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to ensure the New Orleans ERO Field Office overseeing Adams addresses identified issues and ensures facility compliance with relevant detention standards. ICE concurred with all seven recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-46Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not adequately identify and track human trafficking crimes. Specifically, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) did not accurately track dissemination and receipt of human trafficking tips, did not consistently take follow-up actions on tips, and did not maintain accurate data on human trafficking. These issues occurred because HSI did not have a cohesive approach for carrying out its responsibilities to combat human trafficking. We made one recommendation to improve ICE’s coordination and human trafficking efforts to assist victims. ICE concurred with our recommendation.Report NumberOIG-21-40Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2021
DHS OIG Inspections Find Violations of Detention Standards at Pulaski County Jail in Ullin, IL and La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, AZ
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Two new reports from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) identify violations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees. These reports are based on unannounced inspections of Pulaski County Jail in Ullin, Illinois and La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. Because the coronavirus pandemic prevented OIG inspectors from visiting Pulaski and La Palma in person, they developed a novel remote inspection protocol that led them to discover multiple violations of standards at both facilities.
Between November 2020 and January 2021, DHS OIG inspectors conducted an unannounced remote inspection of the Pulaski County Jail to determine whether Pulaski complied with ICE’s 2011 Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS). Pulaski did not meet standards for classification, medical care, segregation, or detainee communication. Inspectors also found that the facility was not consistently providing required oversight for detainees in segregation by conducting routine wellness checks.
The inspectors also conducted a limited review of the facility’s COVID-19 pandemic preparedness measures and its response to outbreaks of COVID-19 across the detainee population. OIG inspectors found Pulaski did not consistently enforce precautions including use of facial coverings and social distancing, which may have contributed to repeated COVID-19 transmissions at the facility.
Similarly, between August and November 2020, OIG inspectors evaluated ICE’s compliance with the 2011 PBNDS as well as applicable COVID-19 guidelines at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. During the inspection they found:
- Detainees alleged excessive use of force in response to detainees’ peaceful protests about concerns over COVID-19 precautions. While the 2011 standards do not specify whether non-lethal force can be used to end protests, DHS OIG confirmed that the facility used chemical agents to end the protests and in response to 11 of 27 other events. OIG inspectors also confirmed instances of verbal abuse against detainees.
- La Palma provided limited PPE and did not enforce facial coverings or social distance among detainees.
- The facility medical unit was critically understaffed leading to delayed sick call responses and medication administration.
- Segregation records raised concerns about detainee care and treatment.
- La Palma showed deficient detainee communication practices.
DHS OIG’s report on violations at the La Palma Correctional Center was featured in the New York Times, Federal News Radio, Cronkite News, and the Washington Post.
Read DHS OIG’s full reports here:
- Violations of ICE Detention Standards at Pulaski County Jail (OIG-21-32, April 2021)
- Violations of Detention Standards amid COVID-19 Outbreak at La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, AZ (OIG-21-30, March 2021)
ICE Did Not Consistently Provide Separated Migrant Parents the Opportunity to Bring Their Children upon RemovalExecutive Summary
We determined that before July 12, 2018, migrant parents did not consistently have the opportunity to reunify with their children before removal. Although DHS and ICE have claimed that parents removed without their children chose to leave them behind, there was no policy or standard process requiring ICE officers to ascertain, document, or honor parents’ decisions regarding their children. As a result, from the time the Government began increasing criminal prosecutions in July 2017, ICE removed at least 348 separated parents without documenting whether those parents wanted to leave their children in the United States. In fact, ICE removed some parents without their children despite having evidence the parents wanted to bring their children back to their home country. In addition, we found that some ICE records purportedly documenting migrant parents’ decisions to leave their children in the United States were significantly flawed. We made two recommendation that will ensure ICE documents separated migrant parents’ decisions regarding their minor children upon removal from the United States, and develops a process to share information with Government officials to contact parents for whom ICE lacks documentation on reunification preferences. ICE concurred with our recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-36Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
During our unannounced inspection of Pulaski County Jail, we identified violations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards that threatened the health, safety, and rights of detainees. In addressing COVID-19, Pulaski did not consistently enforce precautions including use of facial coverings and social distancing, which may have contributed to repeated COVID-19 transmissions at the facility. Pulaski did not meet standards for classification, medical care, segregation, or detainee communication. We found that the facility was not providing a color-coded visual identification system based on the criminal history of detainees, causing inadvertent comingling of a detainee with significant criminal history with detainees who had no criminal history. The facility generally provided sufficient medical care, but did not provide emergency dental services and the medical unit did not have procedures in place for chronic care follow-up. We also found that the facility was not consistently providing required oversight for detainees in segregation by conducting routine wellness checks. Finally, we found deficiencies in staff communication practices with detainees. Specifically, ICE did not specify times for staff to visit detainees and could not provide documentation that it completed facility visits with detainees during the pandemic. We did find that Pulaski generally complied with the ICE detention standard for grievances. We made five recommendations to ICE’s Executive Associate Director of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to ensure the Chicago ERO Field Office overseeing Pulaski addresses identified issues and ensures facility compliance with relevant detention standards. ICE concurred with all five recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-32Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2021
DHS Had Authority to Deploy Federal Law Enforcement Officers to Protect Federal Facilities in Portland, Oregon, but Should Ensure Better Planning and Execution in Future Cross-Component ActivitiesExecutive Summary
Under 40 U.S.C. § 1315, DHS had the legal authority to designate and deploy DHS law enforcement officers from CBP, ICE and United States Secret Service to help the Federal Protective Service protect Federal facilities in Portland, Oregon. However, DHS was unprepared to effectively execute cross-component activities to protect Federal facilities when component law enforcement officers first deployed on June 4, 2020. Specifically, not all officers completed required training; had the necessary equipment; or used consistent uniforms, devices, and operational tactics when responding to the events in Portland. This occurred because DHS did not have a comprehensive strategy that addressed the potential for limited state and local law enforcement assistance, and cross-designation policies, processes, equipment, and training requirements. We made two recommendations to improve DHS’ preparedness for protecting Federal property. DHS concurred with both recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-31Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021