Does ICE Chief Sarah Saldaña Endorse Solitary Confinement for Children or Is She Greatly Disturbed By It?
On April 14, 2015, ICE Director Sarah Saldaña testified before the House Judiciary Committee and was grilled by Representative Hank Johnson on the alleged placement of a mother and her 11 year old son in a medical isolation unit as punishment for protesting the conditions of her family’s detention.
On May 7, 2015, Saldaña’s lawyers, who work for the Department of Justice, submitted a brief in connection with a lawsuit filed by the mother and her 11 year old son requesting that ICE be barred from punishing her and her son for protesting the conditions of detention.
What Saldaña testified to, under oath, at the House Judiciary Committee is directly contradicted by what her lawyers wrote to Federal District Court Judge Xavier Rodriguez.
Here is the exchange:
Rep. Hank Johnson:
“would it trouble you to know that women and children because their mother participated in what is called a fast, others call it a hunger strike, but she participated in it and was assigned as a punitive measure to that medical isolation unit?”
ICE Director Saldaña:
“Congressman, if that’s a fact, that disturbs me greatly…”
“Protesting…is a ‘major offense’ at an ICE family residential facility” and “requires separation from the general population…Medical observation rooms may be used to facilitate this separation.”
The lawyers go on to justify the punishment of “separation” of mothers and children by saying that these draconian actions “reflect reasonable determinations by ICE that necessarily balance any right the resident may have to protest…against the health and safety of resident participating in the strike, and the health and safety of others in the facility…”
Ms. Saldaña was either being dishonest with Rep. Hank Johnson, or her lawyers do not speak for her. Which one is it?