Council Sues to Press for Records About the Treatment of Black Immigrants in Detention

Council Sues to Press for Records About the Treatment of Black Immigrants in Detention


Abusive and humiliating treatment of Black immigrants within our vast immigration detention system happens with very little oversight.

This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit demands that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the DHS Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) respond to FOIA requests targeting eight immigration detention facilities in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The original requests to ICE asked for:

  1. Complaints, grievances, and records related to documented significant incidents. 
  2. Records on officials using force, chemical agents, weapons, and other devices against individuals in ICE custody. 
  3. Reports on the use of solitary confinement. 
  4. Anonymized data for everyone held at the specific facility, including country of origin, detention duration, and release information. 
  5. Documentation and outcomes for medical and mental health requests. 

The request to DHS OIG asked for:

  1. Summaries of complaints, grievances, or allegations received by the Offices that involve any of the eight ICE facilities and how they were addressed; and
  2. Records from an investigation of LaSalle ICE Processing Center

The complaint outlines the extensive mistreatment of Black immigrants in facilities targeted in the FOIA investigation, including reports of Black immigrants being subject to overtly racist statements, threatened with pepper spray, beaten, and forced into unnecessary restraint devices. In addition, reports describe physical force used to compel Black immigrants to agree to deportation.

The American Immigration Council and Black Alliance for Just Immigration filed this lawsuit in District Court for the Eastern District of New York, with assistance from Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Black immigrants also report medical neglect, barriers to accessing counsel, lack of food, clothing and basic necessities. The complaint highlights how Black immigrants are disproportionately subject to solitary confinement.

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