Mayorkas also directed ICE to “as soon as possible” sever its contracts with the Irwin County Detention Center in rural Georgia, a more complicated endeavor because the facility is county-owned but run by a private contractor.
Federal officials chose the two facilities mainly because their detention rosters have shrunk and they are “no longer operationally necessary,” said a Department of Homeland Security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s deliberations. Bristol is holding seven detainees out of nearly 200 beds; Irwin has 114 detainees out of almost 1,000 beds.
Both county jails are also under federal investigation for complaints of abuses against immigrants — allegations that remain open and unresolved — and those factored into Mayorkas’s decision, the official said.
In a memo to ICE directing the changes, Mayorkas said his “foundational principle” is that “we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.”