The president of the union for employees of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) testified against new rules for immigration detention centers.
He said the rules were flawed and would make the system “more dangerous.”
Detention centers are for immigrants accused of entering the United States without legal papers. The people in them are held under civil, not criminal law. They are waiting for deportation or to go to immigration court.
The union chief said:
- The union was not consulted in the making of the new rules
- There is no national system to report attacks on officers by detainees
- There are no rules for criminal background checks on visitors
- Pat-down searches replace strip-searches
- ICE officers must conduct medical screenings for which they are not qualified
He also said the new emphasis on deporting criminals means more dangerous people in the system while “security protocols appear to be weakening.”
An ICE official said the agency does not have legal powers to punish detainees. The new rules are to change practices that have led to injuries, deaths and lawsuits. The changes will improve medical care, help protect detainees from sexual abuse and make consultations with lawyers easier.
ICE just opened a new center in Texas designed for detainees.
The Republican chair of the committee holding the hearing said, “Under this administration, detention looks more like recess.”