A Good News Detention Story that Gets Almost No Attention

By Dan Cadman on June 16, 2017

On June 2, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) issued a report, "Results of Office of Inspector General FY 2016 Spot Inspections of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] Family Detention Facilities", the results of which have warmed the hearts of ICE officials. Here they are in a nutshell:

During our July 2016 unannounced spot inspections of ICE's three family detention facilities, we observed conditions that generally met ICE's 2007 Family Residential Standards. The facilities were clean, well organized, and efficiently run. Based on our observations, interviews, and document reviews, we concluded that, at all three facilities, ICE was satisfactorily addressing the inherent challenges of providing medical care and language services and ensuring the safety of families in detention. (Emphasis added.)

The report also notes that at the three specially designated facilities, in Leesport, Pa.; Dilley, Texas; and Karnes, Texas, all staff had received training to handle allegations of sexual assault and abuse, as well as sundry complaints and grievances, and that security cameras were generally satisfactory to ensure the safety of detainees and the facility itself.

One would think that this is the kind of report that would generate some interest in the national media, given the constant refrain from (and frequent litigation by) advocacy groups that ICE facilities are inadequate or substandard.

After all, this has certainly been the case when facilities or standards were determined not to be satisfactory by government watchdogs such as the OIG. In such cases, there is almost a scrum of adverse press, congressional expressions of outrage, and advocacy group press releases or website announcements (See, e.g., here, here, here, here, and here.)

Apparently interest doesn't run so high when detention centers are operating as they should be: Very few organizations have published anything about the most recent OIG report, perhaps because the results don't further their political agenda. If their concerns were as they claim, they would welcome this report, whatever they might feel about detention generally. Confronted with the near-silence, one wonders whether their interest is truly in the health and well-being of the individuals being detained, notwithstanding their moral pretensions.