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National Campaign Targets Facility as One of the 10 Worst Immigration Detention Centers in the Country

A national coalition of community leaders and advocates released a report today calling Tri-County Detention Center in Ullin, Illinois, one of the 10 worst immigration detention centers in the country. The report, detailing human rights violations and lack of oversight by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was part of the launch of the national “Expose and Close” campaign, calling for President Obama to close Tri-County and nine other immigration detention centers and to ensure the safety and dignity of immigrants.  

“The abuses we see at Tri-County are a snapshot of those occurring in immigration detention centers throughout the country,” said Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “The Obama administration must end this crisis by closing Tri-County and every facility that fails to respect human rights, and by stopping the expansion and privatization of the immigration detention system.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • Tri-County’s extreme isolation—more than a six-hour drive from the closest affordable legal aid providers in Chicago—makes it nearly impossible for most of the men and women there to find lawyers or communicate with family members.
  • A broken communications infrastructure prevents the few immigrants at Tri-County who are able to secure lawyers from being able to maintain reliable contact. Phone call costs are exorbitant, and many times the phones simply do not work—a problem that Illinois Senator Richard Durbin observed when he visited the facility in January 2012. 
  • Tri-County’s health and medical services are grossly understaffed. ICE has failed to hold the facility, Illinois’ only privately contracted prison, accountable for these deficiencies.

“Rather than continuing to subject immigrants to the appalling conditions at places like Tri-County, our country should be developing more alternatives to detention, and rethinking why we are detaining and deporting so many immigrants,” said Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Policy Director Fred Tsao.  “We hope that the Obama administration will follow through on reforming not just the detention system but also our entire badly broken immigration system.”
The other facilities targeted by the Expose and Close campaign are: Etowah County Detention Center (AL), Pinal County Jail (AZ), Houston Processing Center (TX), Polk County Jail (TX), Stewart Detention Center (GA), Irwin County Jail (GA), Hudson County Jail (NJ), Theo Lacy Jail (CA), and Baker County Jail (FL).

Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center is a Chicago-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education. For more information visit

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is a statewide coalition of 130 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.