Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; and Kamala Harris, D-California, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting more information about DHS’s assessment of its use of privately operated immigration detention facilities and DHS’s likely expanded use of these facilities under the President Donald Trump administration.
“On Aug. 26, 2016, Jeh Johnson, then-secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, tasked the Homeland Security Advisory Council with creating a subcommittee, to assess the continued use of privately operated immigration detention facilities by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the senators wrote. “Accordingly, the HSAC Subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities (Subcommittee) spent approximately two months reviewing ICE policies, conducting interviews of various leadership stakeholders and subject matter experts, and visiting ICE detention facilities.”
“The subcommittee acknowledged the limitations of its inquiry, which according to the report, ‘would benefit from a more in-depth review of policies and procedures,’” the senators continued. “Despite these limitations, the HSAC report concluded that ICE’s use of private detention facilities would continue and adopted 13 of the subcommittee’s 14 core recommendations. These included recommendations for additional funding to provide medical services at detention facilities, greater use of unannounced inspections and the creation of well-defined channels for detainees and their families to report problems.”
The senators asked Secretary Kelly to take a position on DHS’s 2016 assessment and whether DHS is implementing the Subcommittee’s recommendations.
The senators expressed concern that the Trump administration’s immigration policies raise additional questions, writing, “On Jan. 25, 2017, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order No. 13768, which calls for, among other things, a dramatic expansion of DHS’s immigration enforcement priorities.”
The senators also asked the secretary to provide information about DHS’s future plans to use private, for-profit detention facilities, including the names and locations of facilities ICE has contracted with, the total number of detainees in these facilities and any plans to contract with additional facilities.
The full letter can be found at bit.ly/2qnTTKQ.