While staff and immigrants detained at the Immigration and Customs Control (ICE) facility were coerced by the GEO group to administer the toxic pesticide as an apparent disinfectant, only one group received the bare minimum of d ‘protective gear. It is not difficult to know which one.
“Migrants who participated in the ‘volunteer’ labor program received HDQ Neutral in 32-ounce spray bottles and mop buckets, often without safety labels or attached instructions, without having to wear the necessary protective equipment when industrial pesticide handling, ”Earthjustice mentionned. “A single pair of glasses was provided to all workers detained in each unit.” The LA Times reports that EPA investigators found “[s]the workers had to wear gloves and masks, but not glasses. ”
The director of the establishment, unsurprisingly, disputes these conclusions. In the first weeks of last year’s pandemic, immigrants were held at another for-profit facility in the state were finally, finally face masks offered– but it came with a stipulation. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that staff members attempted to force inmates to sign a document releasing private prison company CoreCivic of any responsibility. No signature, no mask.
Earthjustice said that because staff members and detainees at Adelanto were forced to apply the toxic pesticide “several times a day over a nine-year period ”, GEO Group has potentially committed tens of thousands of violations. “Ingredients found in Neutral HDQ have been linked to asthma, infertility, birth defects, and other respiratory and reproductive disorders. One of the active ingredients in HDQ Neutral can even damage human DNA, ”the organization said. “When asked by the EPA about reports of adverse effects on the health of detainees or policies in the event of illness, GEO declined to answer. “
This is a particularly disturbing part of the report. In this document, asks Inspector Timothy Hyles to the director James Janecka, “What is the policy that staff or management should follow when inmates get sick?” The documents state: “Mr. Janecka refused to answer. The toxic pesticide has not been used in Adelanto since September, when a federal judge ordered its application at the facility to cease immediately.
“After receiving what appear to be valid complaints from inmates regarding the toxicity and harmfulness of HDQ Neutral, the government and its subcontractor, the GEO Group, have done absolutely nothing but continue to use HDQ Neutral, ”said US District Judge Terry Hatter. in its decision according to LA Times. “It is clear to the Court that the use of HDQ Neutral in Adelanto’s housing units was with callous disregard for the safety of Adelanto detainees and in violation of the constitutional right of detainees to reasonable security.
Adelanto has been known for years for reasons that go beyond the pandemic and the misuse of this toxic pesticide. In 2017, the prison saw the death of three inmates within three months, one death by suicide. Despite this, the inspectors the following year reported a discovery hanging knots in more than one dozen cells during a surprise visit. “According to the guard escorting us, noose is a daily and widespread problem,” inspectors said. “When we asked two contract agents who supervised the accommodations why they hadn’t taken the sheets off, they said that was not a high priority.”
“[T]hey don’t even consider immigrants to be human, ”continued the Shut Down Adelanto Coalition. “There is no reform possible when we start the conversation with an argument about the basic humanity of a group of people. It’s disgusting and heartbreaking.
Earthjustice said that “[f]For years, Adelanto’s facility has come under intense pressure from local and national advocates over its inhumane detention practices, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, President Biden signed an executive order eliminating private prisons. However, this ordinance does not apply to detention centers for migrants, which are under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. “
Lawyers urged the president to expand his order to include the ICE facilities, saying that “[i]In order to enact a more comprehensive agenda that truly prioritizes racial equity, President Biden must dismantle private prisons on all fronts, including ending private prison partnerships and contracts with ICE.
“Despite a long experience of neglecting and mistreating immigrants held in ICE detention centers, private partnerships and prison contracts have fostered a cruel and unfair system that further punishes immigrants for speaking out against violence and abuse ”, National Campaigns United We Dream Community Protection Officer Cynthia Garcia mentionned in January. “These abuses will only worsen the longer these contracts last and the more unnecessary funds will be channeled to the Department of Homeland Security.”
In a major step, the Biden administration this month refused to renew a contract with GEO Group for New York’s only private prison, Queens Daily Eagle. reported. “IIt’s high time, ”New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez tweeted. “The federal government should not do business with private prisons.”