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Congressman Joaquin Castro

Representing the 20th District of Texas

House Fails to Adopt Castro Homeland Security Appropriations Amendments

Sep 7, 2017
Press Release

Today, the House of Representatives voted against three amendments offered by Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) that would increase federal agents’ use of body-worn camera technology and prevent the use of federal funds to enter into contracts with privatized immigration detention facilities.

Two of Rep. Castro’s amendments would have increased funding for federal agents’ use of body cameras. One amendment sought to provide an additional $5 million (bringing the total amount to $10 million) to equip U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with body cameras. The second amendment would have provided $10 million to supply U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents with body camera technology. Both amendments are cost-neutral and don’t increase overall spending.

“Today, the House missed an opportunity to increase federal law enforcement transparency and help agents do their jobs more safely and effectively,” said Rep. Castro. “Body cameras aren’t a cure-all, but they improve officers’ public interactions, de-escalate conflicts, and increase trust in law enforcement. Local law enforcement agencies across the country are adopting the technology because it protects officers and members of the public – federal law enforcement agencies should do the same.”

Rep. Castro’s third amendment would have prevented the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from entering into contracts with privatized immigration detention facilities in FY 2018. Currently, only 9.2 percent of detained individuals are held in ICE-owned facilities.

“People who are detained in the United States must be treated humanely and justly. Privatized immigration detention facilities fall short of those basic standards,” said Rep. Castro. “A 2016 study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security found that private detention facilities have staffing deficiencies, subpar medical care, and inefficient abuse reporting systems. It’s also been reported that some of these privatized centers don’t provide immigrants with adequate access to legal information and services. The U.S. government should not do business with the companies running facilities that fail to meet ICE’s Performance-Based National Detention Standards.”