WASHINGTON- On Friday, prison workers and immigration lawyers said that the Trump administration’s transfer of hundreds of detained immigrants into five U.S. prisons puts the detainees and prison staffers at risk.
Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants said, “The last thing the government should be doing is putting immigrants into prisons so that it can detain even more people who pose no threat to anyone”.
Prison staff, accustomed to dealing with convicted criminals, may lack the training to deal with detained immigrants who may be unable to get the legal, medical and translation resources they need while in prison, said lawyers and prison workers.
Justice Department official said, “ICE routinely makes use of BOP space. Coordination on this level is another prime example of why Congress needs to act to provide the administration with the resources” he also added, “ICE is confident in the safety and security of detainees held at these locations”.
At Federal Detention Center SeaTac near Seattle, people who normally work as electricians and plumbers are being deputized as corrections officers to accommodate 209 new, mostly female detainees, said Raphael Lee, a senior officer specialist and member of the American Federation of Government Employees Council of Prisons. He also added, “Right now in this institution, we do not have enough staff to currently work the posts that are here”.
“A new facility just coming online like this with an extra 1,000 people is really concerning, especially in a place that is not equipped to deal with immigrant detainees,” she said.
Jorge Baron, executive director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said his organization has faced challenges trying to speak with detainees being held at SeaTac.
Out of the five women, the organization had said, all of them had been separated from their children and all were seeking asylum. “People are being deprived of access to information”.