Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently asked the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain records, to approve its timetable for retaining or destroying records related to its detention operations. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill government request for record-keeping efficiency. It isn’t. An entire paper trail for a system rife with human rights and constitutional abuses is at stake.
ICE has asked for permission to begin routinely destroying 11 kinds of records, including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody. Other records subject to destruction include alternatives to detention programs; regular detention monitoring reports, logs about the people detained in ICE facilities and communications from the public reporting detention abuses. ICE proposed various timelines for the destruction of these records ranging from 20 years for sexual assault and death records to three years for reports about solitary confinement.
For years, advocates and communities across the country have denounced human rights abuses in the detention system. Many of the records that ICE proposes for destruction offer proof of the mistreatment endured by people in detention. Given the Trump administration’s plans to increase the size and scope of the system substantially, it is all the more disturbing that the agency wants to reduce transparency and accountability.
NARA has provisionally approved ICE’s proposal and its explanations for doing so are troubling. In cases of sexual assault and death, for example, NARA states that these records “do not document significant actions of Federal officials.” It’s hard to believe that the actions of a federal official are not significant in the death or sexual assault of an individual who is in federal immigration custody. NARA also posited that in cases of sexual assault, that the “information is highly sensitive and does not warrant retention.”
Recent reports by advocacy groups document sexual assaults in detention without adequate investigation or remedy, substandard medical care, the overuse of solitary confinement as well as threats and physical assault by custody staff. Since October 2016, there have been 10 deaths in immigration detention. Many of the records used in these reports and analyses would not have been made available without sustained public pressure to force ICE to maintain and divulge this information.
It is absolutely essential for each case to be investigated properly. Just reading the above paragraph leads to suspicion insofar as why would someone receiving healthcare have the gall to substantiate whether or not it is standard? Furthermore, it is rather common for inmates to complain about mistreatment by guards or custody staffs.
Put an entirely different way, and to all inmates will gripe about their treatment by any and/or every detention officer. People have been doing this kind of reporting in as much as any response whatsoever normally is a good one.
The best of everything that could happen is that those who are in custody are not there because they were law abiding citizens. However, the fact remains that they are precisely the opposite. This, of course, does entitle them to any preferential treatment or otherwise. It is difficult for me to presuppose that this treatment does exist.
Furthermore, there must be a statute that governs how long records must be kept. Now if this measure does not have a statute, then it is unconstitutional at best and statutes must be set immediately. The premise of this article was written by an ACLU lawyer so what else to expect?