On Tuesday, American Oversight sued the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to compel the release of records that may shed light on the deaths of individuals held in the custody of immigration authorities.
Five people have died in the custody of ICE since the beginning of 2021. Documents previously uncovered by American Oversight through litigation revealed troubling details and alarming failures in care leading up to the deaths of several asylum-seekers in 2018.
American Oversight filed a set of Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records related to deaths in custody from 2018 through 2020, including detainee death reviews, health care and security compliance analysis reports, and medical event analyses related to the deaths of individuals in federal immigration custody. DHS and ICE have failed to release the requested records as required by law, and Monday’s lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeks to enforce these requests.
“Again and again, we’ve seen that egregious violations of detention standards lead to preventable deaths,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Policymakers and the public need to understand what’s going wrong and why these failures have continued so that we can put an end to these tragedies. And the public needs to keep our attention focused on these conditions so the government isn’t given a pass.”
This lawsuit is the latest in American Oversight’s investigations into federal immigration policies and their impact on migrants and asylum-seekers. More information and requests related to these investigations are available here.
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