National Immigration Law Center
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Our mission is to defend & advance the rights & opportunities of low-income immigrants and their family members.

Detention Policies & Conditions

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U.S. Immigration Detention System:
Substandard Conditions of Confinement and Ineffective Oversight
(PDF)

NILC and ACLU of So. Calif.: Presentation prepared for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, May 3, 2007.

More Information


Violaciones a derechos humanos de migrantes Mexicanos detenidos en los Estados Unidos

(Human Rights Violations Against Mexicans Detained in the United States)

Detained immigrants often suffer physical or verbal mistreatment, are routinely denied access to medical care and attorneys, and are separated from their loved ones, according to a new report released by a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that work on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border. This report is based on information gathered from hundreds of interviews with recently deported immigrants, poviding first-hand accounts of human and civil rights violations suffered by immigrants held in U.S. detention facilities. (Spanish, with English executive summary and prologue; Programa de Defensa e Incidencia Binacional, 3/27/12, PDF)


U.S. Detention of Asylum Seekers: Seeking Protection, Finding Prison

Human Rights First, April 2009; link posted 5/19/09.


Detained and Dismissed: Women’s Struggles to Obtain Health Care in United States Immigration Detention

78-page report documents dozens of cases in which ICE's medical staff either failed to respond at all to health problems of women in detention or responded only after considerable delays. (Human Rights Watch, Mar. 17, 2009, link posted 5/19/09)


Dying for Decent Care: Bad Medicine in Immigration Custody

Problems include: no independent oversight; delayed and denied care; staff shortages; improper care of mentally ill and physically disabled patients; inadequate access to medical records; inadequate interpretation; cruel and abusive staff behavior; unsanitary and overcrowded facilities; transfer or segregation of detainees in retaliation for medical complaints. (Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Feb. 2009, link posted 5/19/09)


Jailed Without Justice: Immigration Detention in the USA

"This report focuses on the human rights violations associated with the dramatic increase in the use of detention by the United States as an immigration enforcement mechanism." (Amnesty International, Mar. 2009, link posted 5/19/09)


Detention and Deportation in the Age of ICE: Immigrants and Human Rights in Massachusetts

"[T]racks the experience of 40 detained persons through the system of detention set up by [ICE].  The report is the first of its kind to thoroughly document jail conditions and due process issues for immigrants detained in Massachusetts.  A series of personal stories illustrates that in its zeal to deport all deportable persons, ICE tramples on fundamental rights.  In-depth analysis of hundreds of pages of government documents reveals the massive and growing federal presence in our state." (ACLU of Massachusetts, link posted 12/15/08)


A Child Alone and Without Papers

Reveals what happens to more than 43,000 undocumented, unaccompanied children removed annually from the U.S. and repatriated to their home countries: The U.S. often compromises children's rights, safety, and well-being, contrary to international law and U.S. child welfare standards. (Center for Public Policy Priorities, 11/08)


Voices from Detention: A Report on Human Rights Violations at the Northwest Detention Center

Among other problems, the study found:  Violations of attorney-client privilege. | Threats and physical intimidation used to pressure detainees to sign papers. | Mistreatment by guards and federal marshals. | Inadequate medical care. | Inadequate treatment of mentally ill detainees, including refugees who'd been persecuted in their homelands. | Insufficient food and incidents of food poisoning. | Severe overcrowding. | Language barriers. (Seattle Univ. School of Law International Human Rights Clinic & OneAmerica, 7/08)