Organization of American States To Hold Hearing On Immigrant Detention Conditions In The U.S.

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Immigration detention centers have seen several detainee deaths. (Photo:

Immigration detention centers have seen several detainee deaths. (Photo:

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced this week it will hold a hearing on conditions at detention centers for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The hearings come after a series of detainee deaths prompted complaints from immigrant and civil rights organizations.

According to a story on, the commission –which is part of the Organization of American States (OAS)– expects to publish a report on immigration detention centers later this year.

Santiago Cantón, the commission’s executive secretary, said at a press conference Tuesday that his panel has requested U.S. government authorization to visit some of the detention centers, but negotiations stalled over conditions for the visits.

The hearing will be held on Friday, March 20th, at OAS Washington headquarters, according to the official schedule for the IACHR’s 134th period of sessions.

The case of the detainees will be presented by the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law.

According to Cantón, the schools’ involvement and the hearing itself might help convince the U.S. government to allow the commission to visit the jails.

A recent Government Accounting Office report said the detention centers display bureaucratic deficiencies, medical personnel under staffing, slow response times to medical emergencies and poor food quality, according to a recent special report on

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked Congress to pass a law that would increase supervision of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and improve the treatment of immigration detainees.

Ninety immigrants have died in detention since 2003, according to the ACLU.

Some of the more high-profile deaths –like those of Guido Newbrough in Virginia and Hiu Lui ‘Jason’ Ng in Rhode Island— have brought attention to the plight of detainees.

But others are shrouded in secrecy, ACLU attorney Monica Ramirez told

“We don’t know all the causes for those deaths,” she said. “The government doesn’t give out information and many times we learn about what happened through families’ accounts.”

AboutDiego Graglia
Diego Graglia is a bilingual multimedia journalist who has worked at major media outlets in the U.S. and Latin America. He is currently the editor-in-chief at Expansion, Meixco’s leading business magazine.