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Immigrants Held in ICE Prison File Civil Rights Complaints

Plus: Paperwork locked underground jeopardizes citizenship applications, and a new program helps undocumented new mothers

Fisayo Okare

Jan 26, 2022

A control room at Batavia - Buffalo Federal Detention Facility where ICE detainees are held. Photo: Josh Denmark/DHS

A control room at Batavia - Buffalo Federal Detention Facility where ICE detainees are held. Photo: Josh Denmark/DHS

This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

In response to unsafe living conditions, nine immigrants held at the privately-owned Imperial Regional Detention Facility in California filed a civil rights complaint with federal agencies. Detainees said a nonfunctional air ventilation system forced them to constantly breathe sewage and manure fumes. They’ve developed difficulty breathing, as well as head and stomach aches. A coalition of civil rights and environmental organizations, in collaboration with the group of immigrants, submitted the complaint to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, and Management & Training Corporation, which owns and operates the detention center. Earthjustice

In other national immigration news…

Locked Paperwork Delays Thousands of U.S. Citizenship Applications

Several applicants who filed for U.S. citizenship have their paperwork stuck in government storage facilities known as Federal Records Centers built beneath the Kansas City metro area. Owing to the pandemic, those centers have mostly been closed with no immediate plans to open. Such paperwork contains the immigration history of applicants, and it’s needed to approve their applications. The National Archives and Records Administration oversees the Federal Records Centers in Kansas City, and has over 350,000 requests for immigration histories pending. Wall Street Journal

New Project Giving Grants to Low-Income and Undocumented New Mothers

Beginning in April, a group of 500 Black and Latina new mothers will receive $500 to $1,000 per month over a three-year period through a guaranteed resource program known as The Bridge Project. Most of the women live in Central Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, and 25% are undocumented. A hundred mothers began receiving payments in July 2021. The federal government distributed a similar monthly child allowance of up to $300 per child during the pandemic. AL DÍA

Pregnant Latina Women Face Greater Odds of COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalization

A nonprofit health care network released a study warning that pregnant Hispanic women are 2.4 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white women. Pregnant people with COVID-19 in general are already at a greater risk of maternal death, premature birth, and stillbirth. CDC data shows that until mid-January, less than half of all pregnant people had been fully vaccinated, with a lower rate for pregnant Latinas (38%) and Black women (26%). Organizations are now using Spanish-language videos and misinformation-debunking campaigns to encourage Latinas to get vaccinated. Axios

CBP Encountered Over 2 Million Migrants at the Border in 2021

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that authorities encountered 179,000 people in the U.S.-Mexico border in December. That brings 2021’s total encounters to over 2 million. The number marks 565,000 more encounters than the previous two years combined. Border authorities encountered 922,000 people in 2019, dropping to 548,000 migrants in 2020 amid the start of the pandemic. Despite the implementation of the Title 42 public health order restricting border crossings and limiting avenues for seeking asylum, migrant flows have remained constant. Newsweek

Fisayo Okare

Fisayo writes Documented’s "Early Arrival" newsletter and "Our City" column. She is an MSc. graduate of Columbia Journalism School, New York, and earned her BSc. degree in Mass Comm. from Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos.

@fisvyo

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