Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, and New York Civil Liberties Union File FOIA Request Following Abuses in Immigration Detention Centers

Human rights organizations seek information on physical abuse, solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and more within the New Orleans ICE Field Office

NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR), American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU-LA), and New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), today filed five Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain records from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding policies and practices within the New Orleans ICE Field Office (NOLA ICE). Responsible for immigration detention centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee, NOLA ICE has a documented history of human rights and civil rights abuses within its facilities, including physical abuse, unsafe release practices, lack of access to language services, unlawful use of solitary confinement, and inadequate medical care.

“The culture of abuse and scale of rampant impunity within the NOLA ICE Field Office is unlike anything we’ve seen in immigration detention,” said Sarah Decker, staff attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Our clients and community members have been denied access to life-saving medication, physically beaten, and sexually assaulted. When they have spoken out about this mistreatment, ICE has locked them in solitary confinement for weeks in retaliation. Yet despite growing public concern, there’s a terrifying lack of transparency about what happens in these jails.”

The FOIA requests cite systemic abuses within all 10 active facilities under the NOLA Field Office, including reports of torture, physical abuse, threats of violence, anti-Black racism, threatened and deployed solitary confinement, deprivation of basic human necessities including life-saving medical care, and retaliation in response to reported grievances. The facilities’ egregious conditions of confinement and unsafe release practices have led to serious injury and even death.

“Every year, the federal government quietly disappears thousands of asylum seekers to a network of private prisons in Louisiana. Most people held in these ICE facilities languish for years, suffering neglect and inhumane conditions, deprived of access to lawyers, family, and resources,” said Nora Ahmed, legal director at the ACLU of Louisiana. “The decisions and policies ICE uses to guide it are a matter of life and death for the tens of thousands of people held in Louisiana’s detention facilities. We will fight to ensure these policies and decisions are made public.”

NOLA ICE’s treatment of people in its detention facilities is inhumane and unacceptable,” said Amy Belsher, Director of Immigrant Rights’ Litigation at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “There have been countless reports of racist harassment, physical assault, and medical neglect — and the severe lack of transparency is almost certainly shielding even more incidents. The public needs to see the full picture of what is happening in these detention centers to ensure the safety and dignity of the immigrants incarcerated there.”

RFKHR, the ACLU-LA, and NYCLU have requested expedited processing for their FOIA requests and a response from the federal government within 20 business days. A copy of the requests is available here.

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
We are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues—championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.

About American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana
Since 1956, the ACLU of Louisiana (ACLU-LA) has worked to advance and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of Louisiana. As Louisiana’s chief defender of civil rights and civil liberties, ACLU-LA is committed to advancing racial justice and dismantling systemic racism across the state through our work to hold police accountable, end mass incarceration and immigration detention, protect voting rights, and advance gender equality and reproductive freedom.

About New York Civil Liberties Union
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is one of the nation’s foremost defenders of civil liberties and civil rights. Our mission is to defend and promote the fundamental principles and values embodied in the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, and the New York Constitution, including freedom of speech and religion, and the right to privacy, equality and due process of law, with particular attention to the pervasive and persistent harms of racism.

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Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, and New York Civil Liberties Union File FOIA Request Following Abuses in Immigration Detention Centers WeeklyReviewer

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