California's senior U.S. senator joined with her Republican counterpart on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday to call for an investigation into years of alleged abuses at immigration detention facilities overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In a letter to the inspectors general of both offices, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Iowa Republican Charles Grassley wrote that the "serious and disturbing allegations of physical and sexual abuse of detainees by guards and other staff" at ICE and HHS facilities "demonstrate a long-term pattern of abuse warranting a thorough investigation into the claims, including the process and procedure by which any guards or contracted staff are hired, trained, and vetted."
They cited a recent New York Times story, as well as several other recent media reports. And the senators -- chairman Grassley and ranking member Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee -- wrote that the issue should not be viewed as partisan because some of the allegations date back to the Obama administration.
The letter details a number of disturbing allegations, including a 19-year-old woman who was seeking asylum and said she felt compelled to engage in sexual acts with a guard because he threatened her with deportation; and a caseworker for a migrant facility who was convicted of felony sexual abuse after inappropriately touching a 15-year-old boy.