The move, which has since incited fears of breaking families apart, has also put Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities under public scrutiny, especially with its current record-high population of more than 52,000.
Aside from its own Office of Detention Oversight (ODO) and local staff stationed in facilities, ICE monitors compliance through annual inspections by the Nakamoto Group, a key contractor that has done so in the last eight years.
In January, a report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concluded that the agency failed to hold contractors accountable for multiple problems in detention centers, including sexual assaults, use of tear gas instead of authorized pepper spray and commingling detainees with serious criminal offenses with those who have “minor, nonviolent criminal histories or only immigration violations.”
“Although ICE employs a multilayered system to manage and oversee detention contracts, ICE does not adequately hold detention facility contractors accountable for not meeting performance standards,” the report said. “Instead of holding facilities accountable through financial penalties, ICE issued waivers to facilities with deficient conditions, seeking to exempt them from having to comply with certain detention standards.”
“However, ICE has no formal policies and procedures about the waiver process and has allowed officials without clear authority to grant waivers. ICE also does not ensure key stakeholders have access to approved waivers.”
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Following the arrests this morning of three defendants who allegedly operated “birth tourism” outfits that catered to Chinese clients, federal authorities today unsealed indictments that charge a total of 19 people linked to three schemes that operated across Southern California and charged clients tens of thousands of dollars to help them give birth in the United States.
Nakamoto, which oversees more than 100 ICE facilities, is accused of cutting corners on its own investigations, conducting improper interviews and producing inaccurate reports, according to NPR.
A man detained at a facility owned by GEO Group in Adelanto, California in October told the outlet that for 76 days, he was subject to filthy conditions, denied medications and shortly put in solitary confinement, where others allegedly came out of with bruises.
Nakamoto, however, reported no problems at the facility in the last two years, while inspections from previous years have not been made public.
In November, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats asked the company to address problems raised in another DHS report, it responded that “Without question, the detained immigrant population as a whole has a better life because of what Nakamoto does.”
That response came from Jennifer Nakamoto, the company’s Japanese American owner who described her establishment as “a small, disadvantaged, minority-owned, woman-owned business.”
In her letter, Nakamoto revealed that her mother was born in a U.S. concentration camp for Japanese Americans, while her father was among the first Japanese American members of the Green Berets.
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i spend way too much time in this #mojavedesert 🌵 corner of the world, Native #Vanyume land. it is so beautiful and so many ugly things have been built here, including #AdelantoDetentionCenter, an ICE immigration detention center owned and operated by the private, for-profit company #Geo, making huge profits off of the intense suffering, pain and torture of people from all over this globe. Whenever I am coming and leaving the evil detention center, I celebrate and honor the wonder and magic of the land and the ancestors, whose power and strength will outlive and triumph over the selfish, mean and weak spirit of those who not only believe and enforce fake borders, but profit and live off the suffering and destruction of people of color globally.
“I am a hard-working minority woman, who took a risk 15 years ago in forming a small business to try to make my way in this great country,” Nakamoto wrote. “In regards to the OIG report your letter references about our inspection processes, our inspections are a snapshot of what we observed on that particular visit, usually once a year.
“So, what OIG members observed during their visit may not be what was present when we visited that facility.”
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My younger brother, was in this vile prison for five months. In Adelanto, he witnessed suicides, sexual assault, medical negligence and physical abuse. In his attempt to stand up for his fellow immigrants, he was punished repeatedly with gross labor, sedatives, and segregation. We, including myself, need to stop calling these facilities “detention centers”. They are prisons, prisons designed to break the #immigrant physically, and mentally. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “When federal officials arrived in May of this year for a surprise inspection of the privately run immigration detention facility, they found nooses made from bedsheets in 15 of 20 cells. The guard who escorted the inspectors began removing the nooses but stopped after realizing how many there were.” Immigrants that attempted suicide, and survived, “the guards laugh at them and call them ‘suicide failures’ once they are back from medical,” the detainee told officials.” #fuckgeo #fuckice #fuckcbp #fuckdhs #adelantodetentioncenter #schoolnotprisons http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-adelanto-oig-20181002-story.html
Given her background, the fact that Nakamoto is responsible in ensuring that detainees are treated humanely has appalled some netizens.
“When I heard of this I thought it must be a Japanese company … one owned by a JA [Japanese American] person is just … wow,” one wrote on Twitter.
When I heard of this I thought it must be a Japanese company…. one owned by a JA person is just… wow.
— Helen Kim (@hlnkim) July 18, 2019
Another questioned Nakamoto’s sincerity.
“There a world where I could understand the intention — given family history, create a company that monitors conditions in service of watching out for incarcerated people. That doesn’t appear to be the mission.”
There’s a world where I could understand the intention — given family history, create a company that monitors conditions in service of watching out for incarcerated people.
That doesn’t appear to be the mission.
— sean typos miura (@seanmiura) July 18, 2019
Meanwhile, another speculated what motivates Nakamoto.
“This is horrifying. To me it seems rooted in trauma and proving assimilated ‘Americanness.’ This is what people must understand: that often fear/trauma of being othered breeds more hatred of the other. It’s a toxic cycle that can only be broken with intentionality.”
This is horrifying. To me it seems rooted in trauma and proving assimilated “Americanness.” This is what people must understand: that often fear/trauma of being othered breeds more hatred of the other. Its a toxic cycle that can only be broken with intentionality.
— Lorinda Toledo (@Lorinda_Toledo) July 18, 2019
Others were simply shocked:
using the story of family history in a twisted defense of incarcerating immigrants without rights…I just…can’t🤬
— Jean Chen Ho (@jeanho) July 18, 2019
— jamey hatley (@jameyhatley) July 18, 2019
wow the asian american #representation we never knew we need /s
— Socialist With SE Asian Diaspora Characteristics (@diaspora_is_red) July 19, 2019
Hence why there was an Asian character in the auction scene in ‘Get Out’ pic.twitter.com/DYj4K5bw5v
— Posh Thot (@StressicaRab) July 18, 2019
this lady’s mom was born in an internment camp…and now she makes her living off putting others?? in camps?? am i reading this correctly??
— omfg (@zanabisms) July 19, 2019
— Justin (@ThatGuyYus) July 18, 2019
This is just breathtaking in its horribleness.
— yeeт 👏🏻 ƭɦε 👏🏻 яι¢н 🏳️🌈 (@rubydynamite) July 18, 2019
— Azereaux Patterson (@Azereaux) July 18, 2019
— Feodor Chin 🇺🇸❄️ (@FeoChin) July 18, 2019
— Cindeezy (@word_vomit_) July 18, 2019
Featured Image via Instagram / @icegov