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US watchdog exposes abuse at migrant detention center, use of chemical agents

Washington: The US Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General in a new report said it identified abuses and mistreatment of migrants at a detention center in the state of Arizona last year.

“From August to November of 2020, we conducted an unannounced remote inspection of the La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC) in Eloy, Arizona, and identified serious concerns regarding detainee care and treatment,” the report said.

The report includes a snapshot of video footage showing LPCC staff firing pepper spray and chemical agents at detainees in the facility’s housing area on April 13, 2020.

The report said migrant detainees described an environment of mistreatment and verbal abuse, especially after they peacefully protested the facility’s failure to properly handle the novel coronavirus outbreaks.

In addition, the inspector general discovered that the facility’s medical unit was understaffed, took more than three days to respond to detainee sick calls, and neglected to refill some prescription medications.

The ICE facility also did not provide a timely response to migrants over their grievances, and some cases were ignored, the report said.

The ICE facility is owned and operated by private company CoreCivic. It had a daily population of 978 all male detainees in 2020.

Moreover, the report said, citing a letter, that the facility allegedly used excessive force against migrant detainees, including pepper spray, pepper balls, and chemical agents, and punished protesting detainees with lengthy stays in segregation.

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