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"They Treat Us Like Garbage"

January 03, 2024 (1 min read)

Daniella Silva, NBC News, Dec. 22, 2023

"Dozens of migrants have recently been transferred to a federal detention center in Louisiana that has been the subject of years of complaints about filthy conditions and inadequate medical care, advocates for immigrants and asylum-seekers said. Authorities with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement transferred around 100 detainees this month from the Pine Prairie processing center in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, to the Winn Correctional Center, about 100 miles north in rural Winn Parish, the Southeast Dignity Not Detention Coalition, an immigrant rights advocacy group, said Wednesday. The transfers, the group said, raise concerns about the treatment of the migrants in an already overcrowded and understaffed facility. ... One detainee who spoke to NBC News by phone and said he had been transferred from Pine Prairie told NBC News that the conditions at Winn were vastly worse. “Outside everything looks really nice, but inside it’s scary,” Jose Pedro Velez Bazurto, from Ecuador, said in Spanish. He said he was transferred from Pine Prairie earlier this month with dozens of others. “This is a prison. Pine Prairie wasn’t like this. It was much better than this," he said. Velez Bazurto, 30, said the water at Winn “is 100% yellow, including the drinking water.” He said there were “flies and maggots” visible in the facility, filthy bathrooms, mold and “rust everywhere." “I feel helpless. We all feel helpless. Here they treat us like garbage,” he said. ... Mich González, the associate executive director of Freedom for Immigrants and steering member of the Southeast Dignity Not Detention Coalition ... said that despite ICE saying it would limit its use of Winn, the population has continued to grow. Advocates are calling for ICE to not renew its contract for Winn, which is set to expire in May. “This place is unfit for sentient life,” he said. “This is not a place where any human being should have to be.” "