On Wednesday, a coalition of organizations filed a civil rights complaint alleging that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has started to deny immigrant rights groups access to immigrant detention facilities, and several of the undocumented Immigrants in them. The problem, which started about 12 months ago, has worsened since the election of President Donald Trump, according to the group, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), which has asked the civil rights office to investigate the DHS.
CIVIC claims that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started limiting the number of visits to the four detention centers they operate in Phoenix to just one per month. They add that detainees were prevented from speaking during a visit earlier this month, at a detention center in California.
The Berks Family Residential Center, in Pennsylvania, an especially controversial facility, has begun limiting visits, allegedly to protect the privacy of detainees, according to CIVIC. Detention centers have been under scrutiny for many years now, with accusations that detainees receive poor treatment. Last week, an emergency alert was issued by the Inspector General of Homeland Security about spoiled food being served in an Orange County facility, in California, as well as the mixing of low-risk and high-risk detainees.
Lawyer and CIVIC co-executive director, Christina Fialho, says there are deep concerns that access is being curtailed to immigration detention centers by the Trump administration, to hide what takes place in them.