What is happening at the ICE detention centers?


Fabiana Centeno, Editor in Chief

 Cramped cells. No access to clean water, toiletries or even food. Sleeping on concrete floors. Wondering when if you will ever get out of here. Overcrowding of over 50,000 people. Over 11,000 children, some without their parents. Over 24 deaths, including, over seven children have died. This is where thousands of immigrants are being held in detention centers run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies in states close to the Mexican border. Most are in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. 

 “There hasn’t been a lot of news coverage because it’s not what the government wants to show, but it is happening, and it shouldn’t happen,” junior Andy Montalvo-Martinez said. 

Undocumented individuals have been taken away from their families and loved ones left with no traces of where they could be held. Many children are left home alone without seeing a parent or even both. Some children even have fears that one day when they come home their mom or dad won’t be there. So where are these individuals being taken? ICE agents take them away to ICE detention centers, with about 15 across the United States.  

According to CNN, state that conditions in these centers are dangerously overcrowded and many immigrants are dying due to the lack of any medical care from diseases. There’s been outbreaks of the spread of the flu, lice, chicken pox, and scabies. There have been nearly 30 reports of abuse, sexual assault and mistreatment of detained children in the detention center in Arizona.  

U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (AOC) has visited these facilities and stated that, “Theres been abuse in these facilities, this was than on their best behavior and they put them in a room with no running water and these women were being told by CPB officers to drink out of the toilet.” 

U.S. Congress has held six hearings about the reports of children in cages and family separations. Customs and Border protection has reduced the number of children in custody for more than 2,500 in mid-June and as reported in July, the number of children has dropped to 350 

In an interview with reporters, AOC gave the following quote after visiting the facilities, “What we saw today was unconscionable, no child should ever be separated from their parents. No child should ever be taken from their family. No woman should ever be locked up in a pen when they have done no harm to another human being.” 

 Ever since information about these conditions has been brought to people’s attention, many have been fighting that the Flores agreement should be applied. The 1997 Flores settlement agreement requires the government to release children from detention centers without any unnecessary delay to their parents or other adult relatives. The agreement also states, officials must hold detained minors in safe and sanitary conditions such as with food, clean water, medical assistance etc. The agreement was named after Jenny Lisette Flores, a 15-year-old girl who fled from her country, El Salvador. She tried to enter the U.S to be with her aunt but was arrested at the border and placed in a juvenile detention center. The aunt was refused custody since they can’t release minors to third party adults. American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit and the Flores agreement was made. In 2015, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ruled that Flores requirements apply to both unaccompanied minors and children with their parents.  

“Law isn’t always moral, law doesn’t always justify things,” Montalvo- Martinez said. 

On July 2, protesters were outside of various U.S. senators and representatives’ offices in Chicago, New York and Indianapolis. Their three main demands were to close the camps, for not one dollar for family detention and deportation and to bear witness and reunite families. Many groups were there such as United We Dream, a youth led immigrant group, American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, Families Belong together, a group fighting family separation. Presidential candidates, reporters and a team of doctors and lawyers visited facilities and returned with allegations of unsanitary conditions. The department of health and human services, which manages shelters for migrant children, received three billion dollars. The number of children in facilities has decreased to 200 in June from 2,700 in May.  

Today, one known nonprofit organization called Raíces which according to their website, is a nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees. They are currently working to help free children and offer legal advice to migrants who are seeking asylum in the U.S. They are working with a multi-channel network, We Are Mitú, which targets Latino audiences. They focus on the Latino culture through news, music, etc. They have been selling t-shirts to promote eliminate the camps. 100% of the proceeds from the sales of the shirts go to Raices.  

There were American flags hanging all over these facilities, that children being separated from their parents in front of an American flag. That women were being called these names under an American flag. We cannot allow for this.” AOC commented during a hearing on migrant detention centers.