ICE closes two troubled detention facilities in Georgia and Massachusetts

The Biden government has decided to close immigration and customs control detention centers in Georgia and Massachusetts on charges of abuse of immigrants, officials said Thursday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered ICE to terminate its contract with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and transfer migrant detainees from the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigrant Detention Center in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

The order comes four months after the Massachusetts Attorney General found the sheriff’s office used excessive force against inmates – such as lightning grenades, pepper ball throwers, and dogs – in a clash over coronavirus testing at the facility in May 2020.

Mayorkas also directed ICE to prepare “as soon as possible” to cease using the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. NBC News reported last September that a gynecologist who worked at the facility was accused by several women of performing unnecessary procedures on them, including hysterectomies.

In a memo to incumbent ICE director Tae Johnson, Mayorkas said, “Allow me to set out a basic principle: We will not tolerate the mistreatment of anyone in civil immigration detention or in poor conditions.”

The ACLU, which had pushed for the closure of the two facilities and three dozen other facilities, praised the move announced on Thursday.

Carol Rose, executive director of the Massachusetts ACLU, described the termination of ICE contracts with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office as “a long overdue and critical step in decoupling Massachusetts law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement.”

“By closing detention facilities with a track record of problematic conditions and ending our local collaboration with ICE, we can work together towards a more equitable and humane immigration system,” added Rose.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson made a sharp statement Thursday afternoon.

“Shame on the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, who put their left-wing political agenda over public safety by terminating the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office contracts with Immigration and Customs,” Hodgson said.

“This is nothing more than a political success organized by Sec. Mayorkas, the Biden administration and other anti-law enforcement groups to punish outspoken critics and advance their partisan agenda to make political points.”

Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the ACLU, said the Irwin County Detention Center was “notorious for its dehumanizing and nightmarish conditions.”

“Today’s announcements show the willingness of the Biden government to depart decisively from previous administrations ‘violations of immigrants’ rights,” added Shah.

The Irwin County Detention Center, which houses ICE prisoners as well as inmates from the Irwin County and US Marshals Service, is privately contracted to LaSalle Corrections.

LaSalle Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rich Schapiro contributed to this.