Congressional Caucuses Demand Transparency from ICE

The leaders of several Congressional caucuses delivered a letter to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 11 demanding data on the nation’s detention centers. As the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) reported earlier this year, information about ICE’s 112 detention centers is elusive, as ICE does not regularly disclose data on detainee population or demographics. The letter from leaders of the Quad-Caucus amplifies POGO’s recommendation that ICE proactively collect and publish data about its public and private detention centers and detainee population, and provide regular updates in easy-to-use, accessible formats.

The Quad-Caucus, which consists of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, emphasized the critical need for transparency “both because of ICE’s long history of failing to safeguard the health and safety of women, men and children, and because the public has a right to know how taxpayer dollars are being spent in government and contract facilities.”

In detention centers run by private contractors, transparency is even more critical—and even more elusive. Despite numerous allegations of abuse in these facilities, and multiple organizations pressing for hard facts on these claims, records solely possessed by private contractors are typically unavailable to the public because private companies are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Quad-Caucus’s letter calls for enhanced transparency of privately run detention centers, citing the “poor health outcomes” of these facilities.

The Quad-Caucus stressed, as POGO has, that increased transparency is both necessary and possible. They requested a response from ICE by August 1.