[JURIST] A group of immigrants being detained in a Los Angles facility on Wednesday filed a complaint [text, PDF] against the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] agency for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of immigrants detained at the facility. The suit was filed in the US District Court Southern District of California [official website] by the National Lawyers Guild [advocacy website] and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California [press release], who are seeking class action status for the lawsuit. The groups allege that the detainees were denied access to basic necessities such as soap, changes of clothing, and showers, and that the facility's overcrowding caused violence and safety hazards. They also said that immigrant detainees were often held in these conditions for weeks or months at a time without the ability to lodge administrative complaints or have private conversations with legal counsel.
The suit follows a March report [text, PDF; JURIST report] by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] stating there was a substantial increase in the number of immigrants detained by the US over the last decade, and that the length of their detentions "falls short of international human rights law." Also in March, an AP report [text; JURIST report] highlighted the increased number of detainees and the extended period of time that individuals have faced detention, noting that though the average detention period is 31 days, nearly 10,000 detainees have been in custody for longer. In February, the ICE's tactics during the Bush administration were criticized [JURIST report] by the Cardozo School of Law's Immigration Justice Clinic [official website] for being overly-aggressive and ineffective. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [official profile] issued a directive [text] in January calling for review and assessment of the ICE fugitive operation teams.