YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Advocates for undocumented immigrants cheered in June when they learned the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center housed within York County Prison would close in August.
But what they really cared about were the detainees, not the center. And they wanted them released.
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That won’t be happening, according to a statement provided Thursday by ICE to abc27 News.
One top complaint of advocates: that transferring detainees at York could mean moving them farther from families and key people in their lives.
Responding to that concern, the statement — attributed to ICE officials — said: “ICE understands that detainees may have ties to the community and a support network near the location that they are detained, and ICE takes that into account when moving to a new facility to keep them as close as possible to their support network.”
Other key points in the statement:
- Detainees “will be transported in a safe and humane manner under the supervision of trained and experienced personnel”
- Detainee “medical needs are prioritized prior to any transfer of the detainee to another facility”
- “In accordance with the interim civil immigration enforcement priorities, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is focusing its limited resources on national security, border security and public safety.”
That last point is an apparent reference to Biden administration guidance, released in February, which de-emphasized the detention of undocumented immigrants who aren’t considered a threat to national security.
The statement didn’t specifically confirm that the detainees would be transferred, only how they would be transferred. However, a source with knowledge of the agency’s plans confirmed that detainees slated to remain in custody would, in fact, be transferred. In other words, detainees are unlikely to be released due only to the closure of the York County facility, which is due to wind down its operations by Aug. 12.
Separately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed to abc27 News Thursday that its investigation into the death of inmate Everett Palmer, Jr., continues despite a grand jury’s decision not to prosecute anyone connected to the case. The office didn’t elaborate and has previously declined to detail its ongoing concerns.