SPONSORED:

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 BookerBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires Dangerously fast slaughter speeds are putting animals, people at greater risk during COVID-19 crisis 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 GrahamBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel Democracy is the MVP in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms 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 TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump 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 Nielsen'Anonymous' whistleblower Miles Taylor changing locations, employing private security after death threats Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension 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.”