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Lawmakers urge Biden admin to close Florida ICE facility accused of racist abuse, COVID endangerment

“We remain extremely concerned about the reports coming out of Glades and understand a group of advocacy organizations sent your department a memorandum (memo) specifically on racist abuse at the facility last month,” lawmakers led by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz write (click here for the full list of signatories). 

They note this memo “outlines a systemic pattern of racially based abuse” against Black immigrants, including use of chemical spray, use of solitary confinement (which is torture), and veiled death threats. “Black immigrants at Glades are also subject to anti-immigrant verbal abuse that is often tied to their nationality. These events are unacceptable and have continued at an alarming rate under this administration.”

“Complaints related to a breadth of other hostile conditions, such as sexual harassment and abuse, retaliation for peaceful protest, and patterns of COVID endangerment and medical abuse have also continued at the facility, in addition to the reports of racist abuse, toxic chemicals, and the carbon monoxide leak.”

Miami New Times reported the carbon monoxide leak this past November was so serious that a number of men were airlifted to a hospital, and continue to suffer from the poisoning. “Weeks after the carbon monoxide poisoning occurred, many of the affected individuals report continuing to experience symptoms of the poisoning and have received little to no medical treatment for these ongoing medical issues,” the letter continued.

Lawmakers further note that GCDC has been slapped with more than 35 complaints since the start of the pandemic, 15 of them under the Biden administration. “These reports are highly disturbing and completely unacceptable,” lawmakers say.

The reports of racist abuse, harassment, and mismanagement at GCDC should be enough to justify its immediate closure. It’s also a fact that U.S. taxpayers are being forced to shell over their hard-earned cash for an immigration detention facility that’s barely even in use, lawmakers noted. “ICE has guaranteed Glades County payment for 300 beds, yet the current population is around 30.” Detained immigrants should be freed and not transferred elsewhere, especially during this ongoing pandemic.

“No one should be treated this way, especially under your watch and at the taxpayer’s expense,” lawmakers tell Mayorkas. “People’s lives continue to be in danger every minute that the Glades Detention Center remains open.”

RELATED: Groups urge termination of ICE contract for site accused of unlawfully deleting surveillance videos

RELATED: ‘Requests have been simply ignored’: ACLU sues ICE for refusing to boost detained immigrants

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