A new report published Tuesday by a government watchdog said that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement does not sufficiently hold its private contractors responsible for wrongdoing.

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that between October 1, 2015, and June 30, 2018, ICE only imposed financial penalties on contractors twice, despite “thousands of deficiencies and instances of serious harm to detainees.”  

The report found 14,003 instances where ICE standards were not met in that period of time.


The report focused on 106 detention facilities that held a total of about 25,000 people every day in fiscal year 2017. Since 2016, ICE has paid the contractors that run them more than $3 billion.

Violations of ICE standards by contractors detailed in the report include failure to notify ICE of sexual assaults and not disclosing staff misconduct.

Other facilities were issued waivers that allowed them to use tear gas instead of pepper spray or house people found guilty of serious crimes with those who have minor or no criminal histories, according to the report.

“ICE has a strong record of holding detention facilities accountable when deficiencies are identified, and the waiver process referenced in the OIG report is a rarely used mechanism,” ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke said in a statement. “From October 2015 to June 2018, ICE proactively identified 14,003 non-compliance issues. During that time period, between September 2016 to July 2018, only 68 waivers were submitted for review, which amounts to less than one percent of the associated non-compliance issues addressed.”

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement remains committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all those in its custody,” he added.

The House of Representatives in January passed a bill to temporarily fund DHS, which includes ICE. Its long term funding is still being negotiated. Progressive representatives on Tuesday wrote a letter urging their Democratic colleagues not to provide additional funding for ICE.