Disability Rights California Releases New Investigative Report Finding Inadequate Conditions at Otay Mesa Detention Center
(San Diego, CA) Today, Disability Rights California (DRC) releases a new report, “Otay Mesa Detention Center: Inhumane Conditions and the Harsh Realities of ICE’s Civil Detention System.”
This report shines a much-needed light on the inadequate conditions of Otay Mesa Detention Center (“Otay Mesa”), located in San Diego, California after a year-long investigation.
Based on our findings, DRC investigation confirms the conditions in Otay Mesa violate ICE’s own standards as well as those required by the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes prohibiting disability discrimination. People with disabilities detained there, as well as other people in detention, experience serious psychological and physical harm due to:
- Inadequate mental health treatment;
- An unreliable system for providing accommodations to people with disabilities;
- Excessive and harsh use of isolation and solitary confinement, including unjustified isolation of people based on their medical conditions;
- Punitive treatment that should not be imposed on civil detainees such as those housed at Otay Mesa;
- Inadequate medical care and the denial of needed dental care;
- Discriminatory treatment of people who identify as LGBTQ+; and
- An inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DRC initiated this investigation in response to complaints from people detained there as well as numerous media reports.1 Most recently, following a death at the facility due to lack of COVID-19 precautions and medical neglect, ICE’s own Inspector General, two Congressional committees, and a Senator from California have called for more oversight.2 Even the facility guards have sued over poor conditions at Otay Mesa.3
Despite years of reports, complaints, and calls for reform, Otay Mesa has failed to reform its system and pose serious risks to people with disabilities while violating human and civil rights. These failures make it clear that the current system of immigration detention is dangerous and constitutionally inadequate for all people, and especially for those with disabilities.4
“Our investigation found that the conditions at Otay Mesa are punitive and inhumane. No person, including people with disabilities, should be subject to such conditions, especially considering that the people in ICE custody at Otay Mesa are civil detainees,” said Richard Diaz. “ICE must end its reliance on private, for profit prisons and find alternatives to its current system of immigration detention.”
People in civil detention centers should not be subjected to punitive and inhumane conditions.cTherefore, we recommend that people with disabilities should no longer be housed at Otay Mesa Detention Center.
Disability Rights California
Disability Rights California (DRC) - Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities. For more information visit: https://www.disabilityrightsca.org.
1 See, e.g., Dorian Hargrove, Asylum Seeker Says She Miscarried After Guards Ignored Pleas for Medical Help, NBC San Diego (Jan. 14, 2020), https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/asylum-seeker-says-she-miscarried-after-guards-ignored-pleas-for-medical-help/2244170/; Maya Srikrishnan, What We Know About the Otay Mesa Detention Center – and Its Future, Voice of San Diego (Oct. 7, 2019), https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/government/what-we-know-about-the-otay-mesa-detention-center-and-its-future/; Tom Llamas, et al., Dying for salvation: A detained migrant’s desperate plea for medical attention, ABC News (Dec. 13, 2018), https://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/migrant-death-shines-light-allegations-inadequate-medical-care/story?id=59790707; Kate Morrissey, Grandmother with mental health condition in ICE solitary for 3 months, The San Diego Union-Tribune (Feb. 8, 2018), https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-ice-mentalhealth-20180124-story.html. – (Return to main document)
2 U.S. House, ICE Detention Facilities Failing to Meet Basic Standards of Care, Committee on Homeland Security, Sept. 21, 2020 at 14, https://homeland.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Homeland%20ICE%20facility%20staff%20report.pdf; U.S. House, The Trump Administration’s Mistreatment of Detained Immigrants: Deaths and Deficient Medical Care by For-Profit Detention Contractors, Committee on Oversight and Reform, Sept. 2020 at 30, https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2020-09-24.%20Staff%20Report%20on%20ICE%20Contractors.pdf; Office of Inspector Gen., Report 20-42, Early Experiences with Covid-19 at ICE Detention Facilities, U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., June 2020, https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2020-06/OIG-20-42-Jun20.pdf; Harris Demands DHS OIG Investigate Treatment of Detained Individuals at Otay Mesa Detention Center, Harris.Senate.Gov, https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/harris-demands-dhs-oig-investigate-treatment-of-detained-individuals-at-otay-mesa-detention-center; “Unmitigated Disaster”: Hunger Striker at Otay Mesa Detention Center Speaks Out as COVID-19 Spreads, Democracy Now (June 30, 2020), https://www.democracynow.org/2020/6/30/an_unmitigated_disaster_hunger_striker_jailed; Kate Morrissey, First ICE detainee dies form COVID-19 after being hospitalized from Otay Mesa Detention Center, San Diego Union-Tribune (May 6, 2020, 4:29 PM), https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/story/2020-05-06/first-ice-detainee-dies-from-covid-19-after-being-hospitalized-from-otay-mesa-detention-center. – (Return to main document)
3 Morgan Cook & Kate Morrissey, Guards sue CoreCivic over allegedly dangerous workplace amid COVID-19, San Diego Union-Tribune (April 30, 2020 5:53 PM), https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/story/2020-04-30/guards-sue-corecivic-over-allegedly-dangerous-workplace-amid-covid-19. – (Return to main document)
4 See e.g., Caitlin Dickerson, Inquiry Ordered Into Claims Immigrants Had Unwanted Gynecology Procedures, N.Y. Times (Sept. 16, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/us/ICE-hysterectomies-whistleblower-georgia.html; U.S. House, ICE Detention Facilities Failing to Meet Basic Standards of Care, Committee on Homeland Security, Sept. 21, 2020; U.S. House, The Trump Administration’s Mistreatment of Detained Immigrants: Deaths and Deficient Medical Care by For-Profit Detention Contractors, Committee on Oversight and Reform, Sept., 2020. – (Return to main document)