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Officials to hold hearing after inspectors find unsanitary conditions at migrant detention facility

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County officials in New Jersey are planning to hold a hearing on unsanitary conditions at a migrant detention facility uncovered by investigators.

The County of Essex Board of Chosen Freeholders told The Hill on Thursday that they are scheduling a meeting on the results of a report from the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General.

{mosads}The report details conditions at the Essex County Correctional Facility, which received a contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house roughly 1,000 immigrants awaiting deportation.

The inspector general for the DHS visited the facility in July and found “unsanitary and unsafe conditions,” security concerns and food safety issues, according to the report.

The food safety issues “could endanger the health of detainees.”

Investigators found “open packages of raw chicken leaking blood all over refrigeration units,” “slimy, foul-smelling lunch meat” and “expired and moldy bread in the facility refrigerator.”

Kitchen staff told investigators that they placed “all unused bread from food service into large trash bags and trash cans to be used for making bread pudding once every 2–3 weeks” despite directives from the Department of Agriculture guidance to dispose of all moldy bread.

ICE requires all detainees get outside time, but the detention center had no outdoor space. Instead, inspectors say the facility had erected “large glass enclosures inside detainee living areas with mesh cages at the top to allow in outside air.”

The report says that ICE promised to build a soccer field at the facility when it started housing detainees there in 2010, but never did.

“ICE officials have never documented concerns regarding outdoor recreation in their weekly inspections or cited the facility for failure to meet this detention standard since it began housing detainees,” inspectors wrote.

Ceiling leaks, mold and dilapidated beds “pose serious health and safety risks for detainees,” according to the report.

ICE has received the report and “described corrective actions to address the issues identified in this report.”

Since 2016, ICE has contracted 106 facilities and paid them more that $3 billion to house immigrants.


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