Report Shows ICE Almost Never Punishes Contractors Housing Detainees No Matter How Many Violations They Rack Up
from the failing-to-meet-the-super-low-expectations-we-have-for-ICE dept
ICE continues to make its own case for abolishment. The agency busies itself with neglecting detainees when not acting as the extension of major corporations to shut down infringing panties/websites. ICE is too big and it’s getting bigger at a rate it can’t sustain. To achieve the ends the President has set down for it, it’s wearing itself thin trying to find the dangerous immigrants Trump keeps talking about or the bound-and-gagged women he insists are being brought across the border by the truckload.
It seemingly doesn’t have the manpower to even capture just dangerous foreigners. Instead of using its resources more carefully, it’s doing things like setting up fake colleges to capture
dangerous criminals immigrants seeking educational opportunities. And it’s continuing to outsource its responsibilities while taking an apparent hands-off approach to third party detention.
ICE’s Inspector General released a report last summer stating the agency was failing to inspect detention facilities often enough or well enough. It found contractors performing government work were doing the job poorly. Detainees weren’t being interviewed properly or given translators to overcome speech barriers. In some cases, detention personnel were not giving detainees access to services like phone calls to the ICE officers handling their cases. In some facilities, dangerous detainees were intermingled with non-criminals. In almost every case, ICE issued a waiver for deficiencies it actually observed. As far as the OIG could tell, dozens of deficiencies went unnoticed thanks to ICE’s inability (or unwillingness) to perform mandatory inspections.
There’s more bad news coming from the OIG’s office about ICE’s use of contractors to handle detainees. The latest report [PDF] delves into ICE’s apparent unwillingness to hold anyone accountable. ICE can’t be trusted to police itself, so it obviously can’t be trusted to police its contractors.
This is the Inspector General’s ultra-dry summary of the problems it discovered:
ICE does not adequately hold detention facility contractors accountable for not meeting performance standards. ICE fails to consistently include its quality assurance surveillance plan (QASP) in facility contracts. The QASP provides tools for ensuring facilities meet performance standards. Only 28 out of 106 contracts we reviewed contained the QASP.
That’s only the beginning of it. From this missing paperwork, ICE moves even further away from anything resembling accountability. As was detailed in the last report, the IG points out ICE’s “solution” to the few deficiencies it does decide to do anything about is the issuance of waivers, which magically make deficiencies acceptable protocol. ICE calls this a “multilayered” approach. The IG calls it nonexistent.
Between October 1, 2015, and June 30, 2018, ICE imposed financial penalties on only two occasions, despite documenting thousands of instances of the facilities’ failures to comply with detention standards. Instead of holding facilities accountable through financial penalties, ICE issued waivers to facilities with deficient conditions, seeking to exempt them from having to comply with certain detention standards. However, ICE has no formal policies and procedures about the waiver process and has allowed officials without clear authority to grant waivers. ICE also does not ensure key stakeholders have access to approved waivers.
To be more precise, ICE only imposed financial penalties twice, despite observing a jaw-dropping 14,003 deficiencies over the course of three years. ICE is blowing taxpayer money and expecting nothing in return. What’s detailed in this report — along with the IG release from last year — is an agency repeatedly abusing the public’s trust.
Our review of the corresponding payment data identified about $3.9 million in deductions, representing only 0.13 percent of the more than $3 billion in total payments to contractors during the same timeframe. ICE did not impose any withholdings during this timeframe.
When the agency whitewashes bad behavior by contractors, there’s no paper trail. There’s no follow up. And everyone involved seems to have no idea what’s going on other than no one’s going to be held responsible for their actions.
We analyzed the 68 waiver requests submitted between September 2016 and July 2018. Custody Management approved 96 percent of these requests, including waivers of safety and security standards.
Despite this high approval rate, ICE could not provide us with any guidance on the waiver process. Key officials admitted there are no policies, procedures, guidance documents, or instructions to explain how to review waiver requests. The only pertinent documents that ICE provided were examples of memoranda that Field Office Directors could use to request waivers of the detention standards’ provisions on strip searches. However, the memoranda did not acknowledge the important constitutional and policy interests implicated by a facility’s use of strip searches. ICE officials did not explain how Custody Management should handle such waiver requests when a contrary contractual provision requires compliance with a strip search standard.
ICE is handing out waivers for private companies to violate Constitutional protections afforded to detainees. These waivers are almost always indefinite. Each waiver is supposed to be followed up on to ensure the “deficiency” has been eliminated by the contractor. ICE has performed zero reviews or reassessments of these waivers.
The waivers have approved unconstitutional strip searches, as detailed above. They’ve also approved the commingling of violent criminals in general population, and the use of a chemical ten times more toxic than pepper spray to subdue detainees. As the report notes, detainees are being seriously harmed by the lax standards deployed by contractors, and ICE’s response has been to shrug and issue waivers.
ICE is an active partner in the dehumanizing of immigrants, allowing private contractors to treat the human beings they’re supposed to be taking care of like pieces of meat to be exchanged for cash. It’s no better than ICE treats detainees itself, but a federal agency should be ensuring its very existence isn’t a cancerous growth on the soul of this nation.