House Democrats visit California immigration detention facilities accused of poor conditions
Congressional Democrats who visited immigrant detainees currently jailed in California facilities said that some of the asylum seekers they spoke to have “not had a hearing … not one hearing” in as many as 50 days. Other detainees crowded around the members, pleading for any information about when they might be freed. “All these people are stuck,” said Congress member Judy Chu. “They don’t know when their hearing will be.”
The delegation, led by California Congress members Nanette Barragán, Jimmy Gomez, Zoe Lofgren, Grace Napolitano, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Mark Takano, Norma Torres, and Chu, said they decided to make the visits to the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto and the Federal Correctional Complex in Victorville following claims of mistreatment and inadequate nutrition. “We wanted to look into these allegations firsthand and able to talk to detainees about their personal experiences at these detention centers,” Roybal-Allard said.
In Adelanto—a private prison owned by GEO Group and contracted with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to jail immigrants—three detainees died within the span of three months last year. According to Mother Jones, “since it opened in 2011, Adelanto has faced accusations of insufficient medical care and poor conditions.” While the Republican-led Congress refuses to address these abuses, leading Democrats have been speaking out and meeting with detained migrants, many of whom are escaping violence in their home countries.
”I got to meet with four undocumented women” at Adelanto, said Congress member Gomez. “Two of them were actually telling me that they were recent asylum seekers that came in and presented themselves at the border. But one of the things they’re saying is that they’re not getting the assistance that they need when it comes to filling out their asylum claims.” One asylum seeker said a judge found that she had a credible fear claim, but she’s had no help getting her English-language paperwork filled out. One Adelanto official, said Congress member Barragán, “straight out lied to me.”
“I was asking very simple questions about staffing needs here, and when I asked what the ratio was of guards to inmates, he first said, ‘I don’t know,’” she said. “I said, ‘You run this place and you don’t know what the ratio is?’ He still wouldn’t give me an answer, and after I pressed him, he said, ‘I do know the answer. I don’t what to tell you because you’re going to write it down and you’re going to report it.’ Imagine for a moment, an ICE official to a member of Congress not being forthcoming, not wanting to provide information. What else are we being lied to about?”