On August 1st, 2018, a civil rights lawsuit was filed on behalf of immigrants being detained in Southern California. According to reporting from The Orange County Register, litigation is now in progress to protect the rights of migrant being held at San Bernardino County’s Victorville prison complex.
This lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court of the Central District of California, with support from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU’s legal complaint alleges that undocumented immigrants being held in Victorville prison are facing inhumane conditions and that they are being denied basic rights, including access to food, access to health care, and the ability to express their religion.
The Lawsuit: An Overview of the Legal Complaint
One of the core issues that is being raised in this complaint is the status of Victorville prison. As noted by the ACLU, this high security male-only prison was built to confine convicts. However, currently, undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of any offense are being held at the facility. It has been called one of the most dangerous prisons in the country. Victorville is located on the site of a former U.S. Air Force base, and there have long been concerns about toxic exposure.
In recent months, there have been serious worries that the conditions at Victorville are deteriorating. With 2018 federal hiring freezes in place, and the Trump Administration’s publicly stated zero tolerance policy on immigration enforcement, the prison is filling up, but there has been little change in the level of staffing. The ACLU and the other plaintiffs raise the following specific allegations against the United States government:
- Detainees are being offered inedible, spoiled food;
- The health care services available on site are dangerously inadequate;
- Outdoor exercise is deeply restricted; and
- Detainees have been denied access to religious services or religious items.
Notably, the ACLU points out that many of the men being detained at Victorville are refugees. They are seeking asylum within the United States, as is their legal right under American immigration law.
A Systemic Problem: Poor Conditions in U.S. Immigration Facilities
Unfortunately, this case is nothing new: there have long been serious concerns regarding the poor and inhumane conditions in U.S. immigration detention centers. In the very worst cases, innocent people have died in ICE custody. Specifically, Southern California’s immigration detention centers have been noted as being ill-equipped. As the Trump Administration has stepped up draconian immigration enforcement policies, including the unethical and immoral decision to separate families, there is good reason to believe that the conditions within our country’s immigration detention centers are only going to get worse. There is already a very serious problem. Immediate reform is needed.
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