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 BookerBooker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Cory Booker talks about 'geeking out' over Rosario Dawson's Marvel role Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals 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 GrahamDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite 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 TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller 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 NielsenTrump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Four heated moments from House hearing on conditions at border facilities 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.”