The Minnesota Democrat, who cited that almost half of the immigration detention facilities are held in jails and prisons, is trying to ensure that migrants arriving into the United States, in fear of disturbance in their own countries, are not treated like felons upon entry at the border. Omar further alluded to the harsh conditions jails and prisons can have or subject on an inmate.
"Conditions in municipal, county, and state jails and prisons contracting with ICE to detain immigrants mirror the systemic abuses in privately operated immigration detention facilities, including medical neglect, long term use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, and lack of access to legal counsel," Omar announced in a letter addressed to Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the Department of Homeland Security, and Susan Rice, director of the Domestic Policy Council.
She led to the coronavirus pandemic emphasizing some of the problems in corrections facilities, which have dealt with overcrowding and massive outbreaks of COVID-19. Details of the bad conditions in some jails and prisons have further led to criminal justice advocates calling for better public health oversight of inmates.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the most egregious examples of medical neglect and failure to follow public health protocols occurred in locally operated jails and prisons," Omar stated.
“In some instances, people detained on civil immigration charges in jails and prisons operated by localities lack access to basic services more regularly available in large, privately operated facilities, as smaller facilities are not designed for long-term confinement. Just as in privately operated” she went on.
Lawmakers who signed on to Omar's letter added Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, and Carolyn Maloney, among others.
Other Democrats remembered for more centrist approaches to immigration have suggested the Biden administration that they need to do a more efficient job of discouraging migrants from crossing the border at all.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat who is a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, pressed administration officials to improve their messaging to prevent people from crossing the border instead of just asking people to delay their trips.
“The messaging is very, very important. They should learn from what happened in 2014,” Cuellar told Politico. “I think, because of the pandemic, it’s going to be a humanitarian crisis very, very soon.”
Thousands of migrant children endure in custody in warehouse-like conditions. Customs and Border Protection authorities said last week there were more than 100,000 attempted illegal crossings in February and a 50% increase in drug seizures.