Booker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement

Booker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement
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Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEnlisting tech to fight coronavirus sparks surveillance fears Democrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE (D-N.J.), a 2020 presidential contender, on Wednesday called for hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee on reports Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is using solitary confinement.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill UN biodiversity chief calls for international ban of 'wet markets' Graham asks colleagues to support call for China to close wet markets MORE (R-S.C.), Booker cites May reports by NBC News and The Intercept that ICE placed thousands of immigrants in solitary confinement between 2012 and 2017, in many cases reportedly even if they hadn't violated any rules.

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Booker also notes that the report claims nearly one-third of those immigrants had a mental illness, including a Ukrainian man who was placed in solitary confinement for 15 days for placing half a green pepper in his sock.

"ICE’s own policy seems to recognize the dangers of solitary confinement. The policy states that the '[p]lacement of detainees in segregated housing is a serious step that requires careful consideration of alternatives. ... In particular, placement in administrative segregation due to a special vulnerability should be used only as a last resort and when no other viable housing options exist,'" Booker’s letter reads.

"It appears ICE has been consistently violating its own policy on the use of solitary confinement," he adds.

Booker’s letter also addresses President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE's threat earlier in June that ICE would carry out major deportations. Trump initially said the raids were planned for Sunday but later said they would be postponed.

"These raids have been rejected by then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE, and then-Acting Director of ICE, Ronald Vitiello," Booker writes.

"At a time when the Trump Administration is claiming it does not have enough money to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the Southwest border, it is puzzling how DHS has enough resources to conduct large-scale raids all across the United States," he adds.

In the letter, Booker credits Graham with scheduling hearings on what he calls the “humanitarian crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border but writes that “ICE has become nothing more than a lethal weapon in the Trump Administration’s war on immigrants and communities of color, and we cannot be silent.”