More than two weeks after Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved about 700 migrant women out of a Texas detention center, their attorneys still have no idea where they are, according to HuffPost.
The transfer began on September 20, when women were moved from the Karnes County Residential Center to various other facilities around the U.S. in order to make more room for family detentions.
Immigration lawyers from Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) have yet to locate the women and said “they can’t find any updated information in ICE’s online detainee tracking system,” the news outlet reported.
Some of the women have critical medical issues, according to RAICES’ director of family detention services, Andrea Meza. “I’m really fearful that their conditions could worsen,” she said. “I don’t want them to be in another ICE press release about death in detention.”
The inability to locate people in ICE custody after a transfer also puts migrants at risk of having to navigate a complex immigration system without representation.
HuffPost reported an ICE official said “Comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody” and that facilities are staffed medical providers and access to emergency care; however, the official did not explain why the women transferred from Karnes were not showing up in the online database.
ICE generally is not legally required to inform immigration attorneys when their clients are transferred, HuffPost noted, but that information should be accessible in the agency’s ICE Detainee Locator online.
Attorneys say the system is notoriously unreliable, “in part because names and birthdates are often entered incorrectly, making detainees impossible to search.”
“I think FedEx does a better job of tracking its packages than ICE does of tracking the people it detains,” Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, a Texas-based immigration attorney, told the news outlet.