The Trump administration wants to roll back certain regulations on the treatment of detained immigrants as part of its effort to crack down on illegal immigration and facilitate more deportations, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Some regulations will be scaled back or replaced so as to encourage local jails and correctional facilities to offer up space for detained immigrants, Homeland Security officials told the Times.
Jails that house immigrants facing possible deportation must currently follow a slew of regulations: suicidal inmates must undergo daily mental health evaluations and be checked on every 15 minutes, immigration officials must be notified when detainees are placed in solitary confinement for two weeks or more, and detainees must be informed in languages they can understand of how to obtain medical care.
But new jail contracts will not include any requirement for translation services, and will only require that jails keep policies around suicide prevention and solitary confinement, rather than detailing what the policies must be.
The office that develops such policies, the Office of Detention Policy and Planning, will also be closed, leaving jails to treat detained immigrants much in the same way they treat inmates suspected or convicted of committing crimes.
Kevin Landy, who directed the office during the Obama administration, said it was "disappointing" that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly appears to be dismantling progress toward improving detained immigrants' health and safety.
"A decision to simultaneously abandon detention standards could have disastrous consequences for the health and safety of these individuals," Landy told the Times.
The plans have reportedly already been approved by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and await approval by the Homeland Security department.
ICE spokeswoman Sarah Rodriguez did not confirm the regulatory changes, but told the Times the agency was "examining a variety of detention models to determine which models would best meet anticipated detention needs."
"ICE takes very seriously the health, safety, and welfare of those in our care," Rodriguez said.
These regulatory changes come amid news that the Trump administration has already been building up a more robust deportation apparatus, allocating 33,000 more beds for undocumented immigrants and seeking out local police forces to assist in immigration enforcement.
An internal Homeland Security assessment published Wednesday by The Washington Post detailed efforts to bolster its immigration agents and border enforcement, removing cumbersome hiring requirements such as polygraph testing for some applicants. The agency also plans to seek out police forces who will deputize officers to enforce immigration laws.
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