The American Civil Liberties Union this week started sounding the alarm about a plan by Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would let it destroy records showing systemic abuse of undocumented immigrants at the hands of its agents.
The ACLU notes that ICE recently sent a request to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) to approve a proposed timetable for destroying records it’s been required to keep on immigrant detentions.
This may sound innocuous, but the ACLU breaks down in detail why it’s actually a very dangerous request.
“ICE has asked for permission to begin routinely destroying 11 kinds of records, including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody,” the ACLU writes. “Other records subject to destruction include alternatives to detention programs; regular detention monitoring reports, logs about the people detained in ICE facilities and communications from the public reporting detention abuses.”
The ACLU alleges that ICE’s request amounts to an effort to reduce its own accountability, which the organization says is particularly disturbing because the Trump administration wants to significantly expand ICE’s size and scope.
“If the Trump administration has its way, the number of immigrants in detention will increase, detention conditions will deteriorate further and more people will be subjected to life-threatening circumstances and denied their most basic rights,” the ACLU writes. “ICE shouldn’t be allowed to purge important records and keep its operations out of the public eye.”