Rare inside look at an ICE immigration detention facility

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 17:31:48-04

First steps inside the secured area of the ice immigration detention facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, immediately cleared up any confusion people may have had about what this place is - and what it is not.

The facility detains immigration violators and a television news crew has never before been allowed to tour the holding center for undocumented detained immigrants, WPIX reported.

ICE Assistant Field Office Director Joe Simao was the tour guide of the converted industrial warehouse.

There was an outdoor rec area - which was really just a concrete court- fitted with a handful of large, open-air ceiling grates, and several men passing the time.

Jamaican immigrant detainee Densley Lawrence has been in the center for 11 months and said a typical day there includes volleyball, going to the gym, the library and then back to eating, sleeping and doing the same thing again.

Simao also showed the WPIX news crew the medical facility, which is for 275 men and some 30 women and the short and longer term dorms. Dorms are all furnished with simple cots, open bathroom areas, metal tables, televisions and not much else.

The place is run by Corecivic, the largest for-profit prison corporation in America.

WPIX reported that people may even confuse the detention facility with a prison but Simao insists that is not the case. "This is not a hotel. This is a detention facility. It's important to say, we are not a prison," he said.

Simao also referred to ICE's published detention standards and a convenient detainee locator tool, both found on the agency's website.