Appalling stories continue to emerge about abuses of immigrants detained at the border. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently detaining over 53,000 immigrants in jails nationwide. The record-breaking spike in immigrant detention stems from a Trump administration policy to arrest nearly all undocumented immigrants. The draconian policy has led to dangerous overcrowding at ICE facilities, with one processing facility holding 900 people despite having a maximum capacity of 125. The explosion of detentions has also masked horrifying human rights abuses by immigration enforcement, including the unjustified separation of children from their families, confiscation of immigrants’ necessary medication, the abandonment of 37 children in a van in the Texas heat for 39 hours, and ongoing denial of necessary medical care to detainees—sometimes with deadly consequences. Meanwhile, an 800,000 case backlog in the overloaded, under-resourced immigration court system guarantees immigrants will languish in dangerous conditions for far too long.
Having directly manufactured this humanitarian crisis, the Trump administration continues to expand detention facilities and refuses accountability for ICE and Border Patrol’s abuses. Congress must demand an end to mass detention of all undocumented immigrants, and advocate for sufficient funding for the immigration court system to alleviate overcrowding. The Trump administration’s treatment of desperate immigrants seeking safety in the United States is a crime against humanity, and Congress must treat it as such.