(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Oversight Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) joined Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairman Castro and Freshman Representative Escobar and congressional leaders in calling on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf to meet with them to further discuss the establishment of the Ombudsman for Immigration Detention and appointment of a new ombudsman. The Fiscal Year 2020 funding omnibus provided $10 million for the creation of this new office, which will fulfill specific functions, ranging from establishing a redress process for misconduct at the Department of Homeland Security to making recommendations to improve detention facilities. The new office of the Ombudsman is especially critical given that the Trump Administration continues to expand detention of immigrants and face reports of inhumane conditions and misconduct within DHS facilities. In fiscal year 2020 thus far, 10 immigrants have died in ICE custody. The previous fiscal year in total included 8 deaths in ICE custody.
The letter was also signed by Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro, Appropriations Subcommittee Chair José E. Serrano, Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chair Albio Sires, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congressman Darren Soto, Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, Congressman Juan Vargas, Congressman Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez, Congressman Tony Cárdenas, Congressman Jason Crow, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Congressman Ruben Gallego, Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia, Congressman J. Luis Correa, Congressman Jesús G. "Chuy" García, and Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva.
“It is important that congressional intent is followed so that the Ombudsman office is widely perceived as robust and impartial, and that those who utilize the office have faith in its independence and leadership. Given that this is a time-sensitive issue, we request an urgent meeting with you and hope to confirm a meeting with you no later than April 10, 2020,” the Members wrote. “In this meeting, we would like to further discuss the establishment of the new office and hope that you will carefully consider whom to appoint to this critical new position.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.