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17 Jul 2019

Yuki Noguchi, NPR

US govt. contractor Nakamoto Group allegedly overlooked abuse at detention centers; incl. co. statement

"'No Meaningful Oversight': ICE Contractor Overlooked Problems At Detention Centers", 17 July 2019

The Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General has repeatedly criticized [Nakamoto Group] for cutting corners on its investigations, conducting improper interviews, and producing inaccurate reports... ICE relies heavily on private industry in nearly every aspect of its operation. Outside contractors GEO Group and CoreCivic operate most of ICE's adult detention centers. For the last eight years, Nakamoto has been charged with conducting annual inspections of ICE detention centers... "It's really not an exaggeration to say that there is basically no meaningful accountability or oversight for the companies who are involved," says Heidi Altman, director of policy at the National Immigrant Justice Center... The DHS inspector general [said], "ICE does not adequately hold detention facility contractors accountable for not meeting performance standards... [ICE] spokeswoman Danielle Bennett says the agency has improved since the inspector general's reports... [including having] senior ICE officials now accompany Nakamoto investigators during their reviews... In an email, Nakamoto Vice President Mark Saunders said, "we have made it abundantly clear that we are in no way political, and we have no agenda other than to do our work." He declined an interview, saying the company has already addressed negative allegations.

Last fall, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats asked Nakamoto to respond to problems raised in the inspector general's reports. In her response, Jennifer Nakamoto quoted from her own company's report, calling the watchdog investigators inexperienced and their findings an "embarrassment" to their office. She disputes many of the facts in the reports. She wrote about her mother's birth in an internment camp, saying she and her family have battled prejudice all their lives. "Without question," she wrote, "the detained immigrant population as a whole has a better life because of what Nakamoto does."