(NationalUSNews.com) — According to agency data regarding various Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, migrant detention facilities at the southern United States border have hundreds of empty beds. The data is a shock to many, as the United States is currently experiencing a record-breaking surge in immigration, with tens of thousands of migrants crossing each month.
One facility located in California is capable of housing over 600 immigrants but currently holds 16. According to authorities, the decision to avoid keeping facilities at maximum capacity stems from pandemic-era policies, which force facility staff to avoid housing many migrants to slow the spread of disease. The ICE detention centers in Texas are constantly near maximum capacity, but other facilities have ample free space and regularly release detained immigrants without further action. The facilities aren’t just refusing to use the space either, as certain detainment centers cost taxpayers millions.
One such facility in Georgia received $12.5 million from the federal government for unused beds. The center received heavy scrutiny during the pandemic due to the ICE staff’s refusal to provide immigrants with health care, causing the immigration detention center to be one of the deadliest in the country. Throughout the pandemic, the facility housed multiple immigrants who died from the virus, likely due to the staff’s decision to ignore medical requests and the lack of routine health checks. Despite the facility’s designation as one of the nation’s deadliest detainment centers, the federal government provided the Georgia center with millions in funding. This information comes from a United States Department of Homeland Security report.
The report covers facilities nationwide and details the “barbaric” treatment of immigrants housed in each detainment center. According to the report, immigrants suffered multiple civil rights abuses, including pepper-spraying detainees with mental illnesses. The report is especially damning, as the federal government repeatedly hindered the NPR’s attempts to enact the Freedom of Information Act to retrieve the report. Despite the poor treatment of immigrants by the staff, the facilities remain largely uninhabited and capable of housing hundreds more.
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