Immigration Officials Move to Silence Detention Center Volunteers

Immigration officials at a San Diego detention facility have implemented a new policy that prohibits volunteers from entering the facility unless they waive their right to speak about what they see inside, according to a Tuesday report from the Los Angeles Times. Volunteers from Souls Offering Loving and Compassionate Ears (SOLACE), a group that has visited more than 800 detained immigrants at the Otay Mesa facility, must now sign a “Volunteer Code of Ethics” restricting their First Amendment rights if they wish to enter. If a volunteer wants to report anything, they must obtain permission from the warden. Since the policy has been implemented, the group has refused to visit, expressing concerns that they would be unable to report abuse or substandard medical care. A spokeswoman from ICE told the paper that the policy change came after administrators realized that Otay Mesa’s previous policy was not in line with national detention standards. But one SOLACE volunteer felt otherwise: “I think they’re circling the wagons to stop people from knowing what’s going on inside,” he said. “It gives ICE more impunity.”