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Democrats calling for Biden administration to bar ICE from contracting with jails

Democrats calling for Biden administration to bar ICE from contracting with jails
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Two dozen House Democrats are calling on the Biden administration to phase out Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) contracts with state, local and county jails and prisons.

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Biden faces pressure from all sides on Israel Omar says Cheney 'as right-wing as they come' but removal 'shameful' MORE (D-Minn.) is leading the effort, requesting in a letter that the administration release an executive order detailing the Department of Justice’s plan to stop renewing ICE and USMS contracts with the jails and prisons. 

The letter, which was addressed to Domestic Policy Council Director Susan RiceSusan RiceRepublicans' 'marriage bonus' is social engineering at its worst Biden HHS secretary argued to keep Trump-era refugee cap: report Biden's elitist work-family policy won't work for most families MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasImmigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border Colonial Pipeline says it has restored full service MORE, was first obtained by Politico

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The lawmakers pointed to President BidenJoe BidenFauci says school should be open 'full blast' five days a week in the fall Overnight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart MORE's earlier executive order mandating that the attorney general not renew contracts with privately operated criminal detention facilities, noting that conditions for detainees in government-owned facilities “mirror” those in private facilities.

“Conditions in municipal, county, and state jails and prisons contracting with ICE to detain immigrants mirror the systemic abuses in privately operated immigration detention facilities, including medical neglect, long term use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, and lack of access to legal counsel,” their letter reads.

The Democrats noted that the majority of ICE facilities operate through contracts between the agency and the localities, with 49 percent of ICE detainees in county-owned facilities and 14 percent in city and municipality-owned centers, according to a 2019 Brooking Institute study.

The lawmakers condemned ICE’s agreements with some local governments to give a per diem rate to hold immigrants that’s “substantially higher” than the per diem rate for those held in criminal custody.

“This financial incentive has fueled the expansion of immigration detention throughout the country, including in states such as Louisiana, which successfully reduced criminal incarceration levels, only to re-fill those same beds with immigrants,” they said.

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“In order to truly sever the financial incentives causing the expansion of an unnecessary and abuse-ridden system of mass incarceration, we urge you to end contracts between the federal government and localities for the purposes of immigration detention,” the lawmakers added. 

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told The Hill that it responds to congressional correspondence through official channels.

The Department of Justice did not immediately return a request for comment.