500 signatures reached
To: Hugh Hurwitz, Acting Director of BOP & Mary Mitchell, Regional Director of the Western Region - BOP
Stop transfer of immigrants in ICE custody to federal prisons
We urge Mary Mitchell and Hugh Hurwitz to withdraw the Bureau of Prison from this insidious agreement with ICE and prevent any future agreements between the two agencies from materializing.
Why is this important?
On June 8, 2018 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the transfer of approximately 1,600 people detained under their custody in immigrant detention centers to federal prisons operated by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). These transfers affected prisons in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Texas with ICE officials stating that the transfers were to last up to 120 days. These transfers effectively served as a way for ICE to increase its detention capacity by close to 4% overnight without any oversight or prior notice. In doing this, ICE circumvented the existing channels for detention expansion, instead making use of another agency’s resources to carry out its work.
These massive transfers have been disastrous for those detained as these BOP facilities have provided them with even less access to legal representation and pastoral care and have not failed to ensure those detained have communication with their loved ones. At the same time, the transfers have also signaled worsening conditions for workers inside the prisons which has had an impact on those detained as well. Given the hiring freeze within the Department of Justice (which oversees BOP), these facilities have turned to the practice of ‘augmentation’, forcing civilian prison workers (teachers, nurses, cooks, etc.) to take on the duties of guards. The combination of a lack of proper staffing and the abusive conditions detained immigrants are subjected to have resulted in cases like Victorville, where an outbreak of chickenpox and scabies took place that was exacerbated by the lack of proper medical staff to address the issues. Along with this, there are reports of Sikh men being held at the Sheridan Prison, having their turbans confiscated and being forced to purchase beanies as a replacement for their religious garb. These two salient examples are just some of many instances that prove that these overnight transfers have only resulted in those detained being subjected to mounting human rights abuses as BOP takes on the work and resulting liability from performing ICE’s work for them.