US Government Sued by Detained Immigrants

Immigrants are suing the US government over the conditions in a California federal prison, which is used to detain immigrants since arrests on the border between the US and Mexico were stepped up by the Trump administration.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as two other organizations, filed the lawsuit in a Riverside federal court on Wednesday. They alleged that the conditions at a medium-security prison facility in Victorville, California are too restrictive on detained immigrants while they await hearings in immigration court, depriving them of air, food, sunlight, and health care. The lawsuit also alleges that the immigrants have been deprived of their religious rights by being denied the use of Sikh turbans and access to Bibles.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement say that the facility currently holds around 700 immigrant detainees but will not comment on any pending legislation. Immigration authorities started to send detainees to prisons located in Washington State, Oregon and other areas in June, in a bid to cope with overcrowding at existing immigration facilities.

ACLU National Prison Project senior staff attorney, Victoria Lopez, said that the confinement of immigrants in such conditions is unconscionable and against the US Constitution. A joint statement released by the organizations also accuses the facility of depriving the men of adequate mental and medical health care, denying them access to legal materials, with threats of isolation and verbal abuse if they ask for medical help.