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N.M. Congressional Democrats Condemn Inhumane Conditions At Torrance County Detention Facility

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) and Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) are calling on the Biden administration to act swiftly to address the inhumane and unsafe conditions at the Torrance County Detention Facility (Torrance) in Estancia, New Mexico.

The U.S Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) just released a management alert to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials recommending the immediate relocation of all individuals under ICE custody from the Torrance facility unless and until the facility ensures adequate staffing and appropriate living conditions.

In December 2021, Heinrich, Luján, Stansbury, and Leger Fernández sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson, and President and CEO of CoreCivic, calling for increased oversight on CoreCivic’s management of the Torrance Facility (Torrance) after Haitian asylum seekers faced significant barriers to legal counsel. The lawmakers have also expressed concerns about the CoreCivic’s commitment to providing proper health care, testing, COVID-19 vaccinations, and hygiene standards for those in its custody to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.

Today, Heinrich, Luján, Stansbury, and Leger Fernández issued the following statement in response to the Inspector General’s management alert:

“ICE should no longer defend the inhumane living conditions at the Torrance County Detention Facility. In December, we alerted the administration to our concerns that Torrance’s routine failure to meet inspection standards underscores the deeply-rooted structural problems at the privately-run facility. The findings by the DHS Inspector General are extremely troubling and in many cases validate the audit ICE itself had commissioned last year. 

“It is clear that CoreCivic continues to fail to meet their responsibilities in managing this facility in a safe and responsible manner. We are calling on ICE to adhere to the OIG’s recommendations and provide a quick and responsible solution to the issues identified by the OIG.

“It is also important to note that the Torrance facility is not an outlier. Our offices have for years monitored and called out legal representation issues, medical care deficiencies and inhumane conditions at the two other ICE detention facilities in New Mexico, the Otero County Processing Center and the Cibola County Corrections Center. It is past time for the federal government to take serious actions to hold these facilities accountable.”