Booker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement

Booker calls for hearings on reports of ICE using solitary confinement
© Getty Images

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Black caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two 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 he wants to see Bolton manuscript Bolton upends Trump impeachment trial  Juan Williams: Democrats can't let Trump off the hook 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense 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 NielsenActing DHS secretary says he expects Russia to attempt to interfere in 2020 elections House Homeland Security rip DHS's 'unacceptable' failure to comply with subpoena Trump puts Kushner in charge of overseeing border wall construction: report 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.”