On Wednesday, August 1, 2018, immigrants sued the US government over harsh conditions at a federal prison in California. The prison used to hold detainees, ever since the Trump administration requested to brace enforcement on the US-Mexico border.
The lawsuit filed in a federal court of Riverside, California, states that the harsh prison circumstances at a medium-security facility in Victorville, are extremely obstructive for captives awaiting their immigration court hearings, numerous who are seeking asylum.
The lawsuit also alleges that these immigrants have been deprived of their religious rights. They have been denied access to a bible and to use of Sikh turban. The litigation seeks to have detainees removed from the prison, and alleges inadequate medical care and food.
According to it, “As a result of the unconstitutional treatment of these civil detainees, many have expressed a desire to be returned, immediately, to their countries of origin — foregoing their claims for immigration relief altogether — because they would rather face the dangers back home than be imprisoned in these abysmal conditions.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement says about 700 detainees are currently at the facility. However, it didn’t comment on the pending litigation.
In order to deal with overcrowding at immigration facilities, immigration authorities started sending detainees to prisons in Washington, Oregon and elsewhere, in June.
As the Trump administration sought to restrict illegal border crossing and take a stern approach to asylum cases, the Federal Bureau of Prisons reserved up to 1,600 beds to hold immigration detainees.
Immigrant advocates since then have filed a separate lawsuit to get hold of detainees held in Victorville. The advocates said that these detainees have been deprived access to lawyers and phone calls, and placed on confinement in isolation, for days at a time.
The petitioners in Wednesday’s lawsuit said, for the first two to three weeks, the prison didn’t issue detainees a change of clothing. Each week, they got only few hours of outdoor exercise time, and no education or other programming, said the litigation.
Similar litigation has been filed In Oregon, over settings at a federal prison in rural Sheridan. Both the cases involve lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union.