Watchdog finds 'egregious' conditions at immigrant detention facilities
© Getty

A federal watchdog has found “unusable” bathrooms and expired food during unannounced visits to four U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers last year, according to a report released Thursday.

Between May and November 2018, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general visited Adelanto ICE Processing Center in California; LaSalle ICE Processing Center in Louisiana; Essex County Correctional Facility in New Jersey; and Aurora ICE Processing Center in Colorado.

Regarding food safety, the report states that "the issues at the LaSalle and Aurora facilities were minor and easily fixed during our visits, whereas those at the Adelanto and Essex facilities were egregious."

ADVERTISEMENT

At the Essex facility, the watchdog group found open packages of raw chicken leaking blood onto refrigerators, spoiled lunch meat and bread that was already moldy.

“The food handling in general was so substandard that ICE and facility leadership had the kitchen manager replaced during our inspection," the report said.

The report also details unsanitary bathroom conditions at the facilities, especially at the Adelanto and Essex locations.

“We observed detainee bathrooms that were in poor condition, including mold and peeling paint on walls, floors, and showers, and unusable toilets,” the report said.

The report said that ICE has taken steps to correct the issues highlighted by the inspector general.

"ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations has reviewed each of the issues outlined in this report, and field offices have taken corrective action at each facility when warranted. ICE has identified ongoing actions to address the OIG deficiencies identified," the inspector general report states.

The facilities can hold a total of nearly 5,000 detainees, according to CNN, which first reported on the inspector general's findings Thursday.

This update follows other scathing reports on the conditions in immigrant detention centers along the border.

A DHS report from September described delayed medical care and use of solitary confinement in the Adelanto facility, as well as nooses made from sheets hanging in the cells for migrants.

One detainee told inspectors they had seen attempted suicides using the nooses, and the guards would mock those who needed medical care afterwards.

In May, the inspector general found a facility in El Paso, Texas, that had a maximum capacity of 125 migrants was holding between 750 and 900 detainees in “standing room only conditions.”

"[Customs and Border Protection] was struggling to maintain hygienic conditions in the holding cells. With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks," the report said.

The conditions come as the number of migrants crossing the border has swelled. In May, more than 130,000 migrants were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, the highest monthly total in 13 years, according to federal data released Thursday.