Engel Calls on DHS Secretary Nielsen to Return Detained Westchester Immigrants to New York

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Engel Also Urges DHS to Investigate Possible Misuse of Federal Funds by Alabama Sheriff

Congressman Eliot Engel is the U.S. Representative for New York’s Congressional District 16.

WASHINGTON, DC — January 03, 2019 — Congressman Eliot L. Engel penned a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen calling for DHS to relocate twenty five Westchester residents who were detained due to their immigration status from an Alabama Detention Center to New York. The request follows disturbing reports of inhumane treatment at the Alabama facility, including , failure to provide adequate medical care, underfeeding, and lack of access to legal materials, counsel and mail.

“I was outraged to learn that twenty-five Westchester residents have been transferred to Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama, hundreds of miles from their commun, families, and legal services,” Engel wrote. “I am deeply alarmed about the conditions that many of these immigrants face in these facilities.”

Engel noted that detainees have better access to counsel in New York, which may prevent wrongful deportation. He also urged DHS to investigate possible misuse of federal funds at the Alabama facility, following reports that the Etowah County Sheriff was personally profiting from unspent federal dollars allocated to the jail.

“This practice of detaining people, whether adults or children, and transporting them thousands of miles away from their families is cruel and must be brought to an end,” Engel said. “I urge the Department of Homeland Security to relocate these individuals back to New York, and to provide opportunities for release on bond, parole, and alternatives to detention.”

Full text of the letter can be found below:

The Honorable Kristjen M. Nielsen

Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Ln SW

Washington, D.C. 20528

 

Dear Secretary Nielsen,

I write to express my deep concern regarding the transfer of detained immigrants to detention facilities across the U.S. I was outraged to learn that twenty-five Westchester residents have been transferred to Etowah County Detention Center in Alabama, hundreds of miles from their communities, families, and legal services.

I am deeply alarmed about the conditions that many of these immigrants face in these facilities. Investigations into Etowah County Detention Center have previously found several reports of abuse of force, failure to provide adequate medical care, underfeeding, and lack of access to legal materials, counsel and mail.[1]

On December 30, 2018, AL.com published a disturbing article describing how the Etowah County Sheriff personally pocketed $1.5 million in unspent federal funding budgeted for jail food.[2] Given reports of lack of nutritious food and underfed detainees, it is appalling that unspent funds are being used to pay for a sheriff’s beach house among other luxuries.[3] I urge the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General to continue its investigation of this misuse of funds.

In addition to the abusive conditions these detainees are forced to endure, transferring them hundreds of miles away creates insurmountable obstacles to their access to counsel and their right to challenge their detention. In New York, detainees have access to counsel through vast networks of community groups such as churches and legal-aid nonprofits. Without access to legal services and counsel, many of these cases end in wrongful deportation.

I urge the Department of Homeland Security to relocate these individuals back to New York, and to provide opportunities for release on bond, parole, and alternatives to detention.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eliot L. Engel

Member of Congress

###

SOURCE: Bryant Daniels | Director of Public Affairs | Congressman Eliot L. Engel

eHeziEngel Calls on DHS Secretary Nielsen to Return Detained Westchester Immigrants to New York

Comments 3

  1. Is it a typo, or did I miss the French word “commun” becoming commun in the progressive Democratic lexicon. I am friendly with many immigrants, who are illegal, so I am happy to say they are not imprisoned and remain productive working members of society. This leads me to believe that the W25 are probably incarcerated, because of other circumstances. One hopes the US will consider the severity of their individual actions, before they expend the resources on transferring them back to New York, when Alabama is so much closer to the boarder.

    1. When the VA scandal broke in 2014 and it was found that VETERANS died waiting for care because of falsified wait times-Rep Elliot Engel was nowhere to be found-this a representative who likes to take credit for work in which he did absolutely nothing.

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