January 13, 2020

Castro, Doggett, Escobar Demand Answers from ICE on Nefarious Contracts with Three Texas Detention Centers

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and member of the House Budget Committee, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), member of the House Judiciary and House Armed Services Committees, today sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Office of Management Acquisition, requesting more information as it begins 10-year contracts with three facilities in Texas (the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, and the Houston Processing Center in Houston). ICE is changing how it conducts business with these facilities, refusing to work with local governments and acquiring contracts directly with all three facilities. This tremendous lack of oversight leaves more opportunity for abuse and mistreatment of migrants. ICE is also using a ten-year contractual time frame rather than the usual five-year time frame, which grants them even more time with no accountability over the human beings in their custody:

“ICE has proven time and again that they are not to be trusted with the immigrants in their care. They continue to show complete and total negligence over detention centers. Now, all three of these Texas facilities will fall victim to their notorious abuses, ranging from sexual assault, to lack of medical care, to migrant deaths. ICE has run rampant with their abuses for far too long with little to no oversight from our local or federal government. We cannot stand idly by and let that happen,” said Congressman Castro. “Along with my fellow Texas representatives, I am demanding swift answers and more accountability from ICE. If past is prologue, we cannot trust them with the lives and well-being of the human beings who come to our borders in search of a better life.”

“The Trump Administration tragically weaponizes ICE to inflict harm on the most vulnerable—and now seeks to even further expand its impunity in Texas,” said Congressman Doggett. “I have long opposed private detention contractors; these new maneuvers are designed to shield them from local accountability and congressional oversight, further undermining our ability to hold them to account for grave abuses.” 

“Congress has the responsibility to hold the government accountable and ensure federal detention facilities in Texas and across the country are operated in a humane and fiscally responsible manner,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “As ICE continues to fail to protect the well-being and safety of vulnerable individuals in custody, it is imperative that the agency suspends these troubling solicitations to prevent more deaths and abuses at the hands of the U.S. government.”

For text of the full letter, click here.

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