Human rights organizations seek information on physical abuse, solitary confinement, inadequate medical care, and more within the New Orleans ICE Field Office.

NEW YORK -- ACLU of Louisiana (ACLU-LA), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR), and New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed five Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain records from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding policies and practices within the New Orleans ICE Field Office (NOLA ICE). Responsible for immigration detention centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee, NOLA ICE has a documented history of human rights and civil rights abuses within its facilities, including physical abuse, unsafe release practices, lack of access to language services, unlawful use of solitary confinement, and inadequate medical care.

“Every year, the federal government quietly disappears thousands of asylum seekers to a network of private prisons in Louisiana. Most people held in these ICE facilities languish for years, suffering neglect and inhumane conditions, deprived of access to lawyers, family, and resources,” said Nora Ahmed, legal director at the ACLU of Louisiana. “The decisions and policies ICE uses to guide it are a matter of life and death for the tens of thousands of people held in Louisiana’s detention facilities. We will fight to ensure these policies and decisions are made public.”

The FOIA requests cite systemic abuses within all 10 active facilities under the NOLA Field Office, including reports of torture, physical abuse, threats of violence, anti-Black racism, threatened and deployed solitary confinement, deprivation of basic human necessities, including life-saving medical care, and retaliation in response to reported grievances. The facilities’ egregious conditions of confinement and unsafe release practices have led to serious injury and even death.

“The culture of abuse and scale of rampant impunity within the NOLA ICE Field Office is unlike anything we’ve seen in immigration detention,” said Sarah Decker, staff attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Our clients and community members have been denied access to life-saving medication, physically beaten, and sexually assaulted. When they have spoken out about this mistreatment, ICE has locked them in solitary confinement for weeks in retaliation. Yet despite growing public concern, there’s a terrifying lack of transparency about what happens in these jails.”

“NOLA ICE’s treatment of people in its detention facilities is inhumane and unacceptable,” said Amy Belsher, Director of Immigrant Rights’ Litigation at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “There have been countless reports of racist harassment, physical assault, and medical neglect — and the severe lack of transparency is almost certainly shielding even more incidents. The public needs to see the full picture of what is happening in these detention centers to ensure the safety and dignity of the immigrants incarcerated there.”

RFKHR, the ACLU-LA, and NYCLU have requested expedited processing for their FOIA requests and a response from the federal government within 20 business days. A copy of the requests is available here.