Lawsuit: Ice Must Not Destroy Detainee RecordsHistorians in the News
tags: racism, AHA, immigration, latino, archives, ICE, public records, Law Enforcement
Washington—U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be prohibited from destroying records detailing abuse and mistreatment of immigrants detained in ICE custody, according to a lawsuit filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Society of Historians and American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). The National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) decision to approve destruction of the ICE records was legally flawed because it failed to address significant public comments, disregarded NARA’s own policies, and failed to consider the accountability and research interests in preserving the records permanently.
NARA approved ICE’s request to begin destroying the records in December 2019, despite ongoing concerns and reports of widespread mistreatment of individuals detained in ICE custody. Several categories of records, including those documenting detainee deaths, sexual assault and abuse, civil rights violations, inhumane solitary confinement practices, and violations of ICE detention standards, are set to be destroyed, with some slated for destruction as early as this year.
“ICE cannot be allowed to destroy records of the history of abuse and mistreatment of immigrants held in ICE custody. NARA’s refusal to consider the important role these documents play in maintaining a transparent government and evaluating our country’s actions is truly alarming,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “As more evidence comes to light about injustices those in ICE custody suffer, we need assurance that these accounts are well preserved and accessible to those who rely on them.”
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