A privately run detention facility in New Mexico has garnered negative attention recently due to reports of it being critically understaffed, leading to unsafe and unsanitary conditions.  Homeland Security’s inspector general on Friday called for the immediate evacuation of dozens of immigrants.  “We recommend the Acting Director of ICE immediately relocate all detainees from Torrance County Detention Facility and place no detainees there unless and until the facility ensures adequate staffing and appropriate living conditions,” the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a report.  The report drew a highly unusual rebuke from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CoreCivic, the private company that runs the facility.

ICE officials signaled the agency would not withdraw the 60 detainees from the facility, which is down from 176 men when the inspectors arrived for unannounced visits from Feb. 1 to 3.  This comes after an ICE report showed a sharp drop in deportations and immigration arrests under Biden.  The dispute over the Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia, N.M., about 60 miles southeast of Albuquerque, poses a new problem for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The secretary has said that he would not tolerate unsafe conditions for detainees — who are held for civil immigration proceedings only — and he has withdrawn detainees from other facilities for allegedly failing to meet his standards. But Mayorkas did not say Friday how he would handle the dispute over Torrance.  Advocates for immigrants called for the detainees’ release and said the Biden administration has fallen well short of its promise to end for-profit immigration detention centers.  “We are shocked but not surprised by the findings in the OIG report describing dangerous, unsanitary and inhumane conditions at the Torrance County Detention Facility,” Rebecca Sheff, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said in a statement. “We call upon ICE to immediately release, not transfer, all the people detained there, so they can reunite with their loved ones and receive the community-based resources and care they urgently need.”