ESTANCIA, N.M. (KRQE) – The Torrance County Detention Center is facing more legal trouble. Attorneys for the ACLU have filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Venezuelan immigrants over what it calls a sham inspection at the facility. The suit claims the center initially failed a 2021 evaluation with inspectors discovering unsafe and unsanitary living conditions. It states the facility got a passing grade following a different inspection in March 2022.
Two weeks after that, the ACLU says the Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General called for U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement to remove everyone from the facility over several unsafe conditions. The ACLU discussed the issues after the report was revealed. “Regardless of the authority that agencies like ICE may have to detain people, there is no justification for holding them in such degrading and inhumane conditions,” said ACLU attorney Rebecca Sheff in March 2022.
In May, the facility settled one lawsuit with the ACLU over guards using pepper spray on immigrants during a 2020 hunger strike. Another lawsuit was filed this year after a 23-year-old Brazilian immigrant committed suicide there.