- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2017

Some Homeland Security employees and contractors subject illegal immigrants awaiting deportation to verbal abuse and disrespect, including interrupting Muslim prayer times and making them wait days for medical care, the department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday.

Basic hygiene items are sometimes withheld, and kitchens at the detention facilities used spoiled and moldy food, investigators said after reviewing five processing and detention centers run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and finding problems at four of them.

Immigrants being held for deportation are part of the civil system, not criminal, and aren’t supposed to be subjected to punitive conditions. Under multiple settlements the government has agreed to a high standard of care for detainees.

But John V. Kelly, the acting inspector general, said his investigators found “a culture of disrespect and disregard for detainees basic rights.”

“Detainees alleged in interviews that staff mistreated them, citing guards yelling at detainees, as well as using disrespectful and inappropriate language,” he wrote in the new report.

One detainee told investigators he was locked in his cell for several days because he shared coffee with another migrant.

ICE acknowledged the problems in its response to the report, saying caring for people awaiting deportation proceedings “can be challenging.”

The agency said its guidance to facilities is good, but it would step up compliance monitoring to make sure the rules are being followed.

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