A recent report from a coalition of Texas immigrant advocacy organizations alleges that a group of approximately 80 African immigrants have suffered multiple serious human rights violations while incarcerated at the West Texas Detention Facility (WTDF) in Sierra Blanca, Texas. These violations allegedly occurred during a period of about a week in early 2018. LaSalle Corrections, a private prison company, operates WTDF. All of the detained individuals were being held for deportation after receiving final orders of removal, and many of them had been detained for months or even years due to difficulties in returning them to Somalia.
Many of the detained men, who were primarily Somalian nationals, claim that they suffered numerous instances of abuse by correctional officers, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and verbal abuse. The men allegedly endured dangerous and unsanitary living conditions at the detention facility, were denied appropriate medical and mental health care, and received arbitrary punishments in the form of pepper spray and solitary confinement. The report details interviews with 30 of the men, all of whom reported that they were disciplined with pepper spray at least once, and 14 of whom reported that they were physically abused by corrections officers.
The authors of the report, which are the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), the Texas A&M University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, and the University of Texas School of Law Immigration Clinic, have called upon the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the DHS Office of the Inspector General, to investigate the alleged abuses and take necessary measures to correct the situation. According to the report, many of the detained Africans are victims of federal crimes and civil rights violations. The conditions and instances of abuse described also violate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention standards, as well as basic human rights.
If ICE has detained your family member or loved one, contacting an experienced Texas immigration attorney as quickly as possible can be essential securing his or her release and fighting deportation. Taking steps to fix an immigration problem from the outset is often much simpler than waiting until the last minute and attempting to remedy the situation. Call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today, and learn what we can do to help you through this situation.