The letter to Bachelet, the former Chilean president who was interrogated and tortured with her mother by the government of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, identifies “tremendous human rights violations” by the US law enforcement agencies Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) . and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its private contractors.
In particular, lawmakers are making "extremely worrying allegations of medical neglect, misconduct and abuse" at the privately operated Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, where detainees have reported having had surgery without their consent. "An imprisoned immigrant," lawmakers including leaders Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, Alan Lowenthal, and Mary Gay Scanlon, "compared the facility to an" experimental concentration camp. "
"Given the long and shameful history of the United States of forcibly sterilizing incarcerated women and the numerous allegations of human rights abuses that have already been leveled against the DHS, the need for an independent investigation is clear," they continue. Legislators also took note of the conditions in detention centers for immigrants who have actively contributed to the deaths of immigrants while ICE was in custody.
"Analysis of a scant public record in 2018 found that half of the 50+ deaths since 2010 were related to below-average medical care," they wrote. "The reported deaths in ICE custody in this fiscal year are at a record high with 21 deaths since October 2019 – at least seven related to Covid-19. Evil neglect and cruel conditions in overcrowded ministry border facilities, where detainees wear dirty clothes, babies don't have diapers, and detained immigrants have no access to showers, soap or toothbrushes. Additional reports indicate that detained immigrants are being held in extremely cold temperatures, lights are on 24 hours a day, and have little or no access to food or medical care. "
The Trump administration has known exactly what it is doing with families it is detaining, despite recent allegations by accused President Donald Trump that children he abducted from their parents on the southern border are "so well cared for". When officials were asked under oath in 2018 if they would leave their own children in one of these facilities, they refused to respond directly. Because they wouldn't.
"Since December 2018, at least six children have died after being exposed to these conditions in the border detention of the DHS," the legislature continued in its letter to Bachelet. A pediatrician told Congress earlier this year that two of these deaths were completely preventable. "The health and law enforcement systems that should have protected him have failed," wrote Harvard Medical School professor Fiona Danaher to the father of one of these children. "I will do everything I can to support Congress that care for children at the US border must be improved so that no other child faces a fate like Felipe's."
In particular, the American government's abuse of children seeking asylum continues to shock the public to this day. Hundreds have been orphaned by the state because their deported parents cannot be found. Lawyers hired by the court to reunite these separated families say the Trump administration is only now offering help, but only because of public backlash in response to the ongoing separations.
"While we commit to doing everything we can to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses domestically, the variety of legal issues at stake, the sheer number of complaints and the severity of the allegations require an international response," lawmakers said Bachelet. "As the United States' senior human rights officer, we urge you to lead this response."