Seeking Records About Possible Due Process Violations of Detainees at the Torrance Detention Facility

Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Last modified: 
September 29, 2022

In September 2021, images of Customs and Border Protection officers on horseback charging at Haitian immigrants to stop them from entering the country drew wide condemnation from the highest levels of government. However, the discriminatory treatment of Haitian nationals did not stop at the border, as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took dozens of Haitians into custody and detained them at the Torrance County Detention Facility. This detention center, operated by the private prison company CoreCivic, is known for subjecting detained individuals to appalling conditions of confinement and has failed a government inspection. 

ICE made it difficult for Haitian nationals detained at the Torrance County Detention Facility to access legal counsel and interpreters that would allow them to communicate in their native language with ICE officers and engage in the legal process. Additionally, reports indicate that Haitian nationals detained at Torrance were subject to expedited case scheduling and received improper advisals from immigration judges. 

Accordingly, the Council’s December 2021 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests sought the following information from ICE and  Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR):  

  • Records, including communications, between ICE officers about the detention of Haitian nationals at the Torrance County Detention Facility. 

  • Records about how ICE and EOIR determined requests for parole from the recently detained Haitian immigrants at the detention facility.  

  • Information about requests for legal assistance from Haitian detainees at the detention facility. 

  • Data about individuals detained at the Torrance County Detention Facility, as well as those who appeared at the EOIR’s El Paso Service Processing Center - the immigration court with jurisdiction over the detention facility. 

On September 29, 2022, the Council and Main Street Legal Services at CUNY School of Law filed a follow-up FOIA request with EOIR to find out what is happening to Haitian immigrants beyond the Torrance Detention Facility. The documents sought will shed light on how immigration judges made bond determinations in cases involving Haitian immigrants, how they adjudicated cases of Haitian nationals who came into the United States during the past two years, and whether their rights at hearings have been protected.  

These records are crucial to the public’s understanding of how Haitian immigrants are being treated by ICE and immigration courts across the country. 

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