IN LOUISIANA AND Texas, immigrants seeking asylum are facing dire conditions in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers hit by this week’s extreme cold. At the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, advocates say parents and children have been living with overflowing toilets, thirst, poor hygiene, and heat that fades in and out. Twenty miles away, at the South Texas ICE Processing Center in Pearsall, advocates say detainees who complained about the cold faced retaliation. At the Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center in Louisiana, a detainee interviewed by The Intercept reports that the segregation unit, akin to solitary confinement, has no heat.
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“If they’re hearing complaints like, ‘Oh it’s cold in here,’ they’ll be like, ‘It could be worse,’ and turn on fans.”
Detainees’ complaints to ICE agents about the temperature have been met with retaliation, Ochoa Lopez told Allain. “The officers are turning on fans to make it colder,” Allain said. “If they’re hearing complaints like, ‘Oh it’s cold in here,’ they’ll be like, ‘It could be worse,’ and turn on fans.” Ochoa Lopez told her that agents have thrown blankets into the garbage after detainees complained.