‘Glades is a dangerous place for immigrants’: EPA is urged to probe chemical misuse at ICE facility

‘Glades is a dangerous place for immigrants’: EPA is urged to probe chemical misuse at ICE facility

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being asked to investigate the illegal misuse of a toxic chemical at a Florida immigration detention facility that already has a history of human rights abuses. More than two dozen groups are urging the agency to probe Florida’s Glades County Detention Center (GCDC), expressing worry the facility is miusing the chemicals at up to 50 times the permitted concentration.

“Without the ability to avoid exposure to the chemicals, which are often sprayed in the air, those in detention have suffered shortness of breath, coughing, bloody noses, headaches, severe nausea, and an increased risk of reproductive health damage, among other chronic illnesses,” a statement said.

“According to the letter, the use of these chemicals at Glades fit into a pattern of misconduct at immigration detention centers across the United States, including two that EPA’s prior investigations found to be in violation of federal law,” organizations including Earthjustice said. The EPA previously determined that immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were being poisoned at facilities in California and Washington.

“People detained at Glades are exposed to chemical disinfectants, called Mint and Maximum Neutral, multiple times a day at up to 50 times the allowed concentration,” organizations said. “The active ingredients found in these disinfectants belong to a harmful class of chemicals called quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs), which have been linked to serious adverse health effects, including asthma, infertility, birth defects, and even DNA damage.”

EPA-registered pesticide HDQ Neutral had already been in use at California’s Adelanto Detention Facility for nearly a decade. Chemical applications at the privately operated GEO Group prison only increased amid the pandemic, leaving detained immigrants with nosebleeds, burning eyes, and breathing issues. “In September 2020, a California District Court ordered that GEO immediately discontinue the use of HDQ Neutral due to the potential threat of the pesticide,” Earthjustice said.

Eight members from Florida’s congressional delegation were among House lawmakers who last month called on the Biden administration to close GCDC, further noting its history of racist abuse and a recent carbon monoxide leak that poisoned a number of immigrants, like Rollin Manning.

“Glades is a dangerous place for immigrants; it’s a place where no one should be,” he said, noting guards have pepper sprayed people, as well as thrown them into solitary confinement, which is torture. “They treat us as if we are not human beings, like we are not welcome in this country.”

But instead of being released, Manning is now at nearby Krome North Service Processing Center, which has its own deplorable record. The problem is not just one or two facilities; it’s a nationwide human rights crisis.

“We join our coalition partners in calling on the EPA to investigate the use of toxic chemicals at the Glades County Detention Center,” said Americans for Immigrant Justice attorney Angeliki Bouliakis Andronis. “In the meantime, ICE must immediately release all those who remain at Glades and terminate its contract with Glades County. For years, Americans for Immigrant Justice has witnessed abuse, including medical neglect, at Glades. The only solution is full closure, with those detained released to their loved ones rather than transferred or deported where they may face further harm.”

“It’s unbearable how I was treated there,” Manning continued. “ICE needs to shut down Glades, and everybody who is still there should be released.”

RELATED: ICE and private prison company GEO Group continue to endanger immigrants through use of pesticides

RELATED: Lawmakers urge Biden admin to close Florida ICE facility accused of racist abuse, COVID endangerment

RELATED: Groups urge termination of ICE contract for site accused of unlawfully deleting surveillance videos

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: