Report calls for improved oversight, management at immigration detention centers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As lawmakers are working to draft legislation to address the surge in migrants at the southern border, a new watchdog report is shedding light on the need more oversight and improved management at the immigration detention facilities that hold migrants.

The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) looks at how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates the facilities.

According to the report, ICE does inspect the facilities to make sure they are providing proper medical care and that they are clean, but it said the agency is not following up on those findings to flag potential problems.

“It doesn’t analyze those inspection results in a way that would allow the agency to determine whether or not there are recurring problems or areas in need of improvement,” said Rebecca Gambler, a Director with GAO. “So, we recommended that ICE regularly analyze its data on inspection results to identify any trends or whether or not there are any areas in need of improvement.”

The report also points to concerns about making sure all migrants who are detained can make informed choices about their medical care.

The findings said ICE requires informed consent documentation for medical care given at ICE facilities, but not for those who may need more invasive medical care at an offsite clinic or hospital.

The report recommends making that a requirement.

“We think that’s really important because informed consent refers to that discussion between a medical care provider and an individual about what the care will be. What the risks and benefits may be,” said Gambler.

The report also found that ICE has been spending millions of dollars a month on beds regardless of whether they are being used.