The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security Inspector General has called for the immediate removal of immigrants held in a New Mexico detention facility, a rare move that has led to an unusual fight with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, BuzzFeed News reports. The inspector general’s office said the immigrants at the Torrance County Detention Facility should be removed due to unsanitary living conditions and security lapses. Inspectors said they found clogged toilets and faulty sinks and that mold was present throughout the facility. ICE officials, along with the company that operates the facility, Core Civic, disagreed with the findings.
The report comes months after Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that under the Biden administration, immigrants would not be held in substandard conditions. The findings prompted outrage among immigration advocates who have long claimed that the detention system needs reform. "I call on @ICEgov to immediately terminate the contract & close the center,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). wrote on Twitter. “I'm alarmed conditions became this unsafe, unsanitary, & unfit for humans. This cannot be overlooked.” The report said some detainees were getting water from a sink intended for filling up mop buckets and that there wasn’t enough staff on-site. There are under 60 immigrants held at the facility. ICE officials said the inspectors were not only wrong, but acted unprofessionally. ICE claims the photo of a detainee getting water from the mop sink was staged, inspectors appeared to have falsified or mischaracterized evidence, and that the inspector predetermined his findings almost immediately after arriving at the facility.