EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A New Mexico congresswoman is calling for further oversight after visiting a migrant detention facility blasted by a federal watchdog group for alleged unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s Office last week recommended the transfer of all migrants at the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia, N.M., due to the risks it posed to detainees. The agency reported mold, backed-up toilets and sinks, as well as water damage. The facility operated by private contractor CoreCivic had failed another inspection last July.
ICE and CoreCivic dispute. CoreCivic further alleged OIG personnel had misrepresented evidence to justify its conclusions.
“My office has been conducting oversight on the conditions at the Torrance Facility for months, and today I personally conducted an unannounced inspection,” U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-New Mexico, said in a statement Monday night. “We are deeply troubled by the OIG’s report and inconsistent findings by (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and will continue to investigate and conduct oversight to ensure the safety and civil liberties of those under the facility’s care.”
That being said, Stansbury told reporters outside the Torrance facility on Monday that she did not find the backed-up toilets and sinks the Inspector General’s Office described.
Stansbury and New Mexico U.S. Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan in December sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson, and President and CEO of CoreCivic, calling for increased oversight on CoreCivic’s management of the Torrance facility. That came after complaints that Haitian asylum-seekers faced significant barriers to legal counsel.
The lawmakers also expressed concerns about the CoreCivic’s commitment to providing proper health care, testing, COVID-19 vaccinations, and hygiene standards for those in its custody.