VICTORVILLE (CBSLA) — A group of Democratic congressional representatives visited ICE detainees at a Southern California desert facility Wednesday to check out their living conditions.
The Southern California Congress members say their offices have been getting flooded with calls since Immigration and Customs Enforcement began housing detainees at the federal prison in Victorville two months ago. They came to see the conditions themselves.
“I think part of the problem is they don’t have enough staff to take care of the problems that exist,” said Rep. Grace Napolitano.
The Union of Prison Workers agrees that they they were not equipped or trained to handle the 1,000 detainees that have been brought there, and say their pleas to the Bureau of Prisons have gone unheard. But they hope the lawmakers can help.
“I feel that this is a very inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars, to detain hundreds of people who pose no threat to our society,” said Rep. Mark Takano.
The representatives who toured the prison and the ICE center in nearby Adelanto say after speaking to detainees and hearing some of their personal stories, they will push the Trump Administration to rethink its immigration policy at the border.
“It’s really heartbreaking to hear the stories of family separation,” said Rep. Norma Torres.
“Let’s not confuse people who have been convicted of crimes with people who are here to seek asylum, people who are immigrants,” said Takano.
Lawmakers say a big concern is that the detainees don’t know how long they may be held because there are so many waiting for a hearing. In fact, they say there are some there who have already agreed to voluntarily leave the country but still haven’t been released yet.