The United State Commission on Civil Rights determined that ICE and ICE contractor immigration detention facilities are punitive and abusive. New Mexico is host to two ICE immigration detention centers both of which are managed by large private prison corporations: Core Civic owns and manages Cibola County Correctional Center (CCCC) in Milan while Management and Training Corporation (MTC) manages the Otero County Processing Center (OCPC) in Chaparral. Government and advocacy reports indicate that these facilities are particularly problematic.
CoreCivic Cibola and the County Correctional Center
In 2016, CoreCivic opened CCCC as an immigration detention facility and for 16 years previously ran the complex as a correctional facility for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). As a Core Civic managed prison, the facility was notable for accumulating more significant repeat health services deficiencies than any other private federal prison in the US.1 Following numerous deaths and problems with medical services at the facility the BOP ended the contract.2 Despite the chronic problems, Cibola County commissioners agreed to let CoreCivic convert the facility into an ICE detention center where protections are fewer. Since its failures with the BOP, CoreCivic’s track record of detaining migrants for ICE has unsurprisingly not improved. For example, there is the recent death of Roxana Hernández Rodriguez who died as a result of inadequate medical attention.3 An independent autopsy found that Ms. Hernández Rodriguez body had deep bruising on her hands and abdomen with evidence of blunt-force trauma “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with a blunt object” as well as injuries from the use of handcuffs; this trauma occurred while Mr. Hernández was in ICE custody in New Mexico.4
Management and Training Corporation & the Otero County Processing Center
Within New Mexico, MTC managed facilities have a grim history involving wrongful death, rape, suicide, poor medical care, a scathing 2003 DOG report, and a class action lawsuit in which MTC was required to pay out $8 million dollars to thousands of individuals the company illegally strip searched.5 Despite these numerous and severe problems, counties in New Mexico, perhaps operating under the assumption that detention facilities represent viable rural economic development (discussed below), continue to do business with MTC. In 2008, together with Chaparral county, MTC opened OCPC as a dedicated ICE detention facility. It is located adjacent to the MTC managed federal prison.
Responding to a high volume of complaints to its detainee hotline, in 2017, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) conducted the first and only unannounced inspection of OCPC. Phones are one of the primary ways that detained individuals obtain and communicate with attorneys; OIG found non-working telephones in the housing areas.6 DHS-OIG found that at OCPC improper treatment of detained individuals “contributed to an overall negative climate” and that “detainees alleged in interviews that staff mistreated them, citing guards yelling at detainees, as well as using disrespectful and inappropriate language.”7 One person detained at OCPC recently reported that an MTC guard addressing new arrivals to the facility stated “Welcome to the Mental Torture Center.” ICE inspections indicate a history of inappropriate staff behavior.8 DHS-OIG found that OCPC staff misused disciplinary and administrative segregation (solitary confinement), inappropriately holding individuals for prolonged periods of time, for minor rule violations, and that many facility records regarding segregation were missing.9 Consistent with complaints made by many individuals detained at OCPC,10 and a key reason why the facility was previously found deficient,11 DHS-OIG found the facility dirty and in poor condition.12
It is time to halt the expansion of immigration detention and initiate immediate independent unannounced inspection of ICE detention facilities in New Mexico. HB624 the Rubio-Maestas Immigration Detention Facilities Act accomplishes both of these goals.
Please sign on in support of HB624 the Rubio-Maestas Immigration Detention Facilities Act.
- Seth Freed Wessler, “Federal Officials Ignored Years of Internal Warnings About Deaths at Private Prisons,” The Nation, June 15, 2016, https://www.thenation.com/article/federal-officials-ignored-years-of-internal-warnings-about-deaths-at-private-prisons/.
- NIJC. “Lives in Peril: How Ineffective Inspections Make ICE Complicit in Immigration Detention Abuse.” The Immigration Detention Transparency and Human Rights Project. Washington D. C.: National Immigrant Justice Center, October 2015. http://immigrantjustice.org/lives-peril-how-ineffective-inspections-make-ice-complicit-detention-center-abuse-0.
- TLC, “Death of Trans Woman in ICE Detention Highlights Need for Action | Transgender Law Center,” Transgender Law Center (TLC), May 29, 2018, https://transgenderlawcenter.org/archives/14287; Clara Long and HRW, “Code Red: The Fatal Consequences of Dangerously Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention” (New York, NY: Human Rights Watch (HRW), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), Detention Watch Network (DWN), 2018), 43–44, https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/06/20/code-red/fatal-consequences-dangerously-substandard-medical-care-immigration.
- Scott Bixby and Betsy Woodruff, “Trans Woman Was Beaten in ICE Custody Before Death, Autopsy Finds,” November 26, 2018, sec. us-news, https://www.thedailybeast.com/trans-woman-roxsana-hernandez-rodriguez-beaten-in-ice-custody-before-death-pathologist-finds.
- Nathan Craig and Margaret Brown Vega, “‘Why Doesn’t Anyone Investigate This Place?’: Complaints Made by Migrants Detained at the Otero County Processing Center, Chaparral, NM Compared to Department of Homeland Security Inspections and Reports” (El Paso, TX: Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee (DMSC) and Freedom for Immigrants (FFI), 2018), 67–74, https://www.freedomforimmigrants.org/report-on-otero.
- DHS OIG. “Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities.” Washington, D.C.: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), December 11, 2017, 5. https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2017-12/OIG-18-32-Dec17.pdf.
- DHS OIG, “Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities,” 5-6.
- Craig and Brown Vega, “‘Why Doesn’t Anyone Investigate This Place?’: Complaints Made by Migrants Detained at the Otero County Processing Center, Chaparral, NM Compared to Department of Homeland Security Inspections and Reports”; Nathan Craig personal communication with anonymous migrant detained at OCPC.
- DHS OIG, “Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities,” 6.
- Craig and Brown Vega, “‘Why Doesn’t Anyone Investigate This Place?’: Complaints Made by Migrants Detained at the Otero County Processing Center, Chaparral, NM Compared to Department of Homeland Security Inspections and Reports.”
- ERO, “Detention Facility Review, Otero County Processing Center, Chaparral, NM, Sept 16-18, 2008,” Detention Facility Review (Washington D. C.: Enforcement and Removal Operations, Department of Homeland Security, September 16, 2008), 4, http://www.ice.gov/doclib/foia/dfra-ice-dro/oterocountyprocessingcenterchaparralnmseptember16182008.pdf.
- DHS OIG, “Concerns about ICE Detainee Treatment and Care at Detention Facilities,” 7.