A report was issued on July 2, 2019 by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security. The Report is entitled “Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley (Redacted)”.
The report may be found here at least for now. https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2019-07/OIG-19-51-Jul19_.pdf.
There are so many remarkable things about this report, it is hard to know where to start. First, and foremost, it shows that there are the much (and wrongfully) maligned “bureaucrats” that are fighting for the values of our country despite the leadership at the top of their agencies. To them, I personally, would like to say THANK YOU!
Second, those folks are sounding alerts from within the very agency that has perpetrated what can reasonably be called human rights atrocities.
Third, the title itself screams for the people of the US to speak up. As one might be inclined to say, “we’ll see what happens” on that front.
From a legal perspective, the report raises many other issues. These point to many of the same issues that Collins & Collins, P.C. and friends are attempting to address in the New Mexico prisons. Namely, the report calls to mind, although it does not specifically mention them, private prison contractors including but not limited to private prison medical providers.
It is always a safe bet to follow the money. And the money trail here begins and ends with private prison contractors.
Cause for Alarm?
Of course there is cause for alarm and there has been since November 2016. That was simply a rhetorical question. But here are a couple of highlights (from the Report that suggest action items on the part of our sleeping citizenry. Keep in mind the report was issued to The Honorable Kevin K. McAleenan Acting Secretary Department of Homeland Security.
Interestingly, the report begins with a restatement of the title of the Report as if the title itself is not enough to suggest action on his part:
“For your action is our final management alert, Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley, the purpose of which is to notify you of urgent issues that require immediate attention and action. Specifically, we encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take immediate steps to alleviate dangerous overcrowding and prolonged detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.”
The report makes the following incredibly disturbing findings:
- The Rio Grande Valley has the most serious overcrowding issues in the nation,
- There is prolonged detention of unaccompanied alien children (UACs),
- Many, if not most, of the detainees are considered “at-risk”,
- Many of the Border Patrol Facilities have no access to showers,
- Many of the facilities are not just overcrowded, they are standing room only, 24/7,
- There is an immediate risk to both detainees and DHS agents and officers.
PLEASE STOP HERE AND TAKE A MOMENT TO LET THESE FACTS SET IN.
Legal Implications for All Involved
There are too many legal issues and questions to address in one article but here are a few with some very abbreviated answers:
- Do the detainees have any recourse? In New Mexico, YES they do have recourse under both federal and state law.
- Do the guards and prison personnel have recourse? This is not as clear but there is case-law suggesting that they may have their own claims for what will most assuredly be a wave of PTSD (and other illnesses) among prison personnel as a result of the abuses at the border.
- Who may be held responsible? The entity most guilty of the atrocities is the federal government itself. However, this is not the target Collins & Collins, P.C. would suggest. Instead, as mentioned above, follow the money.
Follow the Money, Its the American Way
Lets end with this. All roads in America, good and bad, are paved with dollars. So in the spirit of American capitalism on this July 4th of the 3rd year of the reign of the most High and Supreme Leader, let us follow that road and “see what happens”.
On a more serious note, if we in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, the bluest of blue states are not willing to act, then what hope do we have for the rest of the country. Please contact your legislators and let them know we do not want this in our state. Perhaps it worth mentioning now that there are multiple immigration hold facilities in New Mexico.
Collins & Collins, P.C. may be reached at 505.242.5958.