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Immigration Law

Social Worker at ICE Prison for Refugee Moms, Kids Speaks Out - "What is Happening There is Tantamount to Torture"

Franco Ordoñez, McClatchyDC, July 27, 2015- "Oliva López thought she’d be working with migrant mothers and children in a group-home setting when hired as a social worker at a Texas family detention center.  But when she arrived at the concrete facility and the doors were unlocked to let her in, she was startled by the cacophony of cell doors clanging.  “I walked in and thought, ‘oh my Lord, this is really a prison,’” she said.  In an exclusive interview with McClatchy, López shared an inside perspective of troubling operations at the Karnes County Residential Center, which has been at the center of controversy over the Obama administration’s family detention policy.  She described a facility where guards isolated mothers and children in medical units, nurses falsified medical reports, staff members were told to lie to federal officials and a psychologist acted as an informant for federal agents.

... Lopez sees the treatment as child abuse.  She should have reported the company to Child Protective Services, she said.  She didn’t report the allegations to ICE because, she said, they were involved in the mistreatment.  On Tuesday, she will travel to Washington, D.C., to speak to House Democrats about her experience.  López said she quit in April because she could no longer work in a facility that asked her to withhold information from federal officials, punished residents who required medical treatment and required her to follow policies that she said were in violation of her license.  “What is happening there is tantamount to torture,” she said."