Report Recommends Closing Tri-County Immigrant Detention Facility

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 19, 2012 5:40PM

The Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center issued a report last week recommending the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency close its Tri-County Detention Center in Ullin, Ill. The organization rated Tri-County as one of the ten worst immigrant prisons in the United States, along with facilities in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, California, Florida and Arizona.

According to the report, some detainees in the facility are lawful permanent residents, asylum seekers and victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Tri-County is at near maximum capacity, with an average daily population of 207 for 234 beds. A spokesperson for ICE told Progress Illinois this month, those numbers are 223 out of 228. The nearest ICE field office is in Chicago, which is about six hours away from the facility, and the communications infrastructureis in disrepair, making it difficult for detainees to get in touch with legal counsel or loved ones.

The report also details several human rights violations, including sexual abuse, inadequate medical care, and denial of legal information. Due to overcrowding, a room at Tri-County where presentations on rights for detainees are normally held was used for extra beds. In 2011, the population had just three medical staff for more than 200 detainees, none of whom were a doctor.

Gillian Christensen, deputy press secretary for ICE told Progress Illinois in a statement “ICE is in the process of fully reviewing the reports. However it is disappointing that the reports appear to be built primarily on anonymous allegations that cannot be investigated or substantiated, and many second hand sources and anecdotes that pre-date the agency’s initiation of detention reform.” In 2009, the Obama administration and ICE promised to reform the immigration detention system. However, the report on all ten facilities nationwide says that there are still no legal safeguards to prevent abuses in the system and accuses ICE of not enforcing its own guidelines.