Many immigrants are placed into immigration detention facilities across the United States. Unfortunately, some undocumented immigrants experience horrific periods of isolation in solitary confinement in these detention facilities.
Solitary confinement is commonly used in the criminal justice system, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have started using solitary confinement in their detention centers to isolate certain undocumented immigrants while they are being detained by U.S. immigration authorities.
Solitary confinement can be very dangerous for undocumented immigrants and prisoners, and has led to serious physical and mental health issues in many people who were placed in solitary confinement.
To address the risks of solitary confinement, ICE officials recently changed their policy on the use of solitary confinement. The new policy limits who can be placed in solitary confinement, specifically stating that victims of sexual assault and people with mental disorders will have limited exposure to solitary confinement. ICE officials will also increase their monitoring of solitary confinement and its use to prevent any hazards and risks to undocumented immigrants.
The new policy issued by ICE came after the Homeland Security Secretary said she will review ICE's solitary confinement practices, and it appears that the review has led to some changes that will hopefully decrease the overall use of solitary confinement on undocumented immigrants detained by ICE.
While it is good news that immigration detention centers have revised their policy on solitary confinement, immigrants in detention centers should still be aware of the risks they may face. Many immigrants are placed in detention centers until they are either deported or have a hearing that allows them to stay in the U.S. These hearings can be very stressful and it can be difficult for some immigrants to understand why they were placed in detention in the first place. An immigration attorney can help explain your options while in detention, and see if you can stay in the U.S. instead of being deported.
Source: ACLU, "New Directive Issues on Use of Solitary Confinement in Immigration Detention," Sept. 5, 2013