EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A federal agency is using transfers between detention facilities as a form of retaliation against migrants who speak out against abuse, an advocacy group says.
The group on Thursday published a report alleging individual rights violations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. The report documents 70 unique “circular transfers” in which a detainee is flown hundreds of miles away to another facility and eventually returned to the place he or she was detained first.
“Transfers are characteristic of the broader immigration detention system, as they function to deprive immigrants of their dignity, autonomy and freedom of movement,” said Layla Razavi, interim executive director of Freedom for Immigrants, which released the report. “ICE weaponizes transfers to quash organizing efforts inside and outside of detention, and to silence those who speak out against the intolerable conditions of confinement.”
Border Report reached out to ICE for comment on the report by Freedom for Immigrants and is awaiting a response.
Razavi said the ICE transfers are wasteful and dehumanizing to a mostly Black and brown detainee population.
The group describes the transfers as torturous because detainees are shackled throughout the travel, inflicting mental anguish. It alleges they are used to prevent the detainees from organizing to demand better conditions, to isolate them from their families and sever ties with outside support networks.
The group said it has documented 676 domestic ICE transfers of detainees from May 2020 to July 2022.
Freedom for Immigrants also alleges forced labor at detention facilities, with individuals interviewed by collaborators saying they were made to clean for $2 a day.
The release coincides with the group’s launch of a Nationwide Detention Facility Resource Directory with facility-specific information for family members and local organizers.
Freedom for Immigrants is a nonprofit based in Oakland, California, “devoted to abolishing immigration detention,” according to their latest 990 Internal Revenue Service filing.