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Two US immigration jails closed after allegations of abuse

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Migrants held in a detention center, U.S, 2020. (Photo via Twitter/ @BrunoRguezP)

The administration of President Joe Biden has ordered the closure of two migrant detention centers run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over accusations of abuse and misconduct at both facilities.

One detention facility in Georgia was closed after women alleged they were subjected to unwanted medical procedures and another in Massachusetts was shut down following complaints of inhumane conditions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Thursday.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, in a statement, “We will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.”

"DHS detention facilities and the treatment of individuals in those facilities will be held to our health and safety standards," he noted. "Where we discover they fall short, we will continue to take action as we are doing today.”

The move marks an important first step in making "lasting improvements to our civil immigration detention system," he added in the statement.

Critics have long argued the US detention system detains people for civil immigration offenses for too long and in inappropriately harsh conditions.

The latest move reflects a broader effort to roll back the harsh immigration policies by former president Donald Trump.

“Today’s announcements show the Biden administration’s willingness to decisively break from the immigrants’ rights abuses of prior administrations,” said Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Far more can and must be done to pull the plug on a system that has squandered millions of taxpayer dollars and inflicted trauma and profound harm on hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their loved ones."

In January, Biden said he had discussed with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador plans to reverse Trump’s immigration policies.

Trump had suspended immigration to the United States, claiming the move was aimed at protecting his people and their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

He had promised in 2016 to curb immigration by building a wall on the US border with Mexico, and launched a crackdown on both legal and illegal entries into the country soon after he assumed office. 

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