A new report from the Minneapolis-based Center for Victims of Torture examines an often-hidden consequence of the current immigration system: Asylum seekers to the U.S. who have been tortured in their home countries could be revictimized by being detained in this country while they await their fate.
Asylum seekers are often shocked by being detained at all, particularly in the conditions in which they are held, the report said.
Approximately 6,000 survivors of torture were detained in the United States between October 2010 and February 2013, the report estimated.
The report makes several recommendations that it says would mitigate the impact of detention on torture survivors.
It says Congress should eliminate mandatory detention and cease mandating that Immigration and Customs Enforcement detain a set number of individuals on a daily basis.
It also recommends that the Department of Homeland Security stop using actual jails and prisons for immigration purposes.
The indefinite nature of immigration detention can exacerbate the severe mental health symptoms that survivors of torture face, the report said.
The Center for Victims of Torture produced the report with the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International.
“Receiving asylum in the United States can be a lifeline to safety and provide a path to healing, but when asylum seekers arrive at a U.S. border or port of entry, they are frequently shocked at the treatment they endure upon reaching ‘safety’ and ‘protection,’ as they are arrested, shackled, and confined,” the report said.
“Given the extreme hardship, particularly in light of less expensive and more humane alternatives, survivors of torture should not be detained,” the report recommends.
When they are detained, Immigration and Customs Enforcement should facilitate safe and supported release as soon as possible, the report said.