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Markey, Warren call for probe into immigration abuses at Plymouth jail

Markey and Warren write that attorneys, advocates, and family members “have raised serious concerns” over the treatment of immigrants detained at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility (PCCF), “including detainees’ lack of access to food and hot water, inadequate medical care, insufficient hygienic maintenance, limited and monitored interactions with counsel, violation of their rights to practice religion, and retaliatory punishment.”

Some of that retaliatory punishment is detailed in a Jan. 5 report from WGBH, which said that when a Muslim detainee complained that he was denied space to practice his faith—in violation of his rights and ICE policy—he was thrown into solitary confinement. ICE has commonly used solitary confinement to punish immigrants, locking them away for as long as 300 days, a DHS inspector general report said in 2020.

In a second incident detailed in WGBH’s report, officials blocked a detained man from accessing a type of visa available to undocumented immigrants who are victims of violent crime and then cooperate with law enforcement. Michaell Acosta Granados was “savagely attacked” by a fellow detainee after reporting harassment by another person in custody. He cooperated with officials, a U-visa requirement. “But Plymouth officials denied his application and did not have a policy in place for reviewing U-visa applications, despite being required to do so by state law,” the report said.

“We are highly concerned that the rights and health of people detained on behalf of ICE at PCCF remain in jeopardy,” Markey and Warren wrote in the letter to Mayorkas and Johnson. “Detainees should have access to a safe, dignified, and lawful environment.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts led a successful legal fight in 2020 to release detained immigrants from PCCF amid the pandemic. Parties agreed to dismiss the lawsuit after “the population of the unit was reduced by over 90 percent,” the ACLU said at the time. But following the end of ICE agreements for Bristol (which has its own history of abuses) and Franklin Counties in 2021, immigrants are again being sent to PCCF for detention.

Mayorkas cited mistreatment in announcing the end of Bristol’s contract last May, saying “we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.” Going by his own words, PCCF deserves the same fate as Bristol.

“People inside have kept speaking up, kept recording messages to share with the public, have kept speaking to their families, even under the threat of again physical assault by correctional officers, harassment, being put in solitary confinement, being transferred to other facilities and all, of course, under the threat of deportation,” Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network volunteer Elizabeth Nguyen told WGBH.

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