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 BookerOutsider candidates outpoll insider candidates The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Poll: Biden support hits record low of 26 percent 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 says Trump should be allowed to undo DACA order The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings The Hill's Morning Report - Witness transcripts plow ground for public impeachment testimony 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 TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report 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 NielsenDivided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA Five things to watch at Supreme Court's DACA hearings This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry 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.”