The Biden administration announced Thursday the closure of two migrant detention centers that are being investigated for alleged mistreatment.
“We will not tolerate mistreatment of people in detention and we will not tolerate substandard living conditions,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement.
Mayorkas ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to immediately terminate the contract with the two facilities involved, located in Georgia and Massachusetts.
The head of Homeland Security said that this is an “important first step” to improve the centers where immigrants who have committed a crime or who have arrived in the country in an irregular manner are awaiting deportation.
In this regard, he assured that if the detention facilities and the treatment of immigrants do not meet adequate health and safety standards, his department will make decisions such as the one made on Thursday.
Specifically, Mayorkas terminated federal contracts with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts and the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.
In the latter case, the termination of operations will take place “as soon as possible,” according to the Department of Homeland Security, because the facility itself is privately operated, despite being publicly owned.
Mayorkas also explained that the closures of these two locations will include the preservation of evidence for ongoing federal investigations, the relocation of ICE personnel if necessary, and the transfer of arrestees “whose detention remains necessary to achieve our mission of homeland security, public safety, and border security.”
The number of people deported from the U.S. fell to historic lows during April, when it removed 2,962 people, the first time since statistics have been collected that number has been below 3,000.
Compared to March, when there were 3,716 deportations, the number fell by nearly 20%.