Advocates Highlight DHS History of Harm on Agency’s 20th Anniversary, Call for Shutdown of Inhumane Florida Detention Facility

For Immediate Release:

February 27, 2023

Media Contact:

Devra Gelman, #ShutDownBaker Coalition,, 305-409-3639

Press Conference Wednesday, March 1 @ 10 a.m. EST

MIRAMAR, FL – On Wednesday, March 1, 2023, Florida immigrants rights advocates and attorneys will mark the 20th anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a press conference at the ICE-ERO Miramar Field Office, calling attention to DHS’ documented history of abuse as the umbrella agency to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs Border Protection (CBP). Advocates will highlight ICE and CBP’s extensive history of harm through surveillance, detention, abuse, and draconian immigration enforcement, reflecting on the agencies’ harmful impact on Florida residents and communities. Advocates will also provide updates on the latest out of the infamous Baker County Detention Center (Baker) in North Florida, asking President Biden, DHS, and ICE officials to shut down Baker — which has been at the center of multiple cases of abuse, medical neglect, barriers to access to counsel and more — and release all people detained at the facility.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 1, 2023, 10 a.m. EST

WHERE: ICE-ERO Miramar Field Office, 2805 SW 145th Ave, Miramar, FL 33027



The following statements are provided by:

Catherine Walker, attorney, Americans for Immigrant Justice:

"Baker County Detention Center has continuously impeded access to legal counsel and prohibited lawyers from communicating with their clients, including hindering our agency’s ability to talk with clients and render legal services. Since 2020, over 140 complaints have been filed about Baker, including for barriers to access to counsel, in addition to cases of physical abuse, unhygienic conditions, illegal voyeurism against women, and medical neglect. ICE and DHS have proved unable and unwilling to address the ongoing abuses at Baker. It is time for the federal government to shut down Baker and release all people detained at the facility."

Wendy King, executive director, Immigrant Action Alliance:

“We are calling on the Biden administration to do the right thing and stop allowing ICE to detain immigrants at the Baker County Detention Center, where complaints of medical neglect, physical abuse and poor conditions are reaching a fever pitch. It's time to end the abuse of immigrants at Baker at the hands of ICE and subsequently DHS.”

Sonia Moreno, South Florida membership organizer, Florida Immigrant Coalition:

“Soy de Honduras y he vivido en los Estados Unidos por más de 25 años. Y no importa de dónde vengamos, todas nuestras vidas tienen valor, pero cuando los inmigrantes dentro del Centro de Detención del Condado de Baker se pronuncian en contra del maltrato, los guardias toman represalias quitándoles el acceso al agua, asesoramiento, y colocan a las personas en confinamiento solitarios. Si condenamos este tipo de trato inhumano en otras partes del mundo, no podemos aceptar que suceda aquí. La detención prolongada es cruel e innecesaria. Es casi imposible que las personas detenidas luchen por sus casos, incluyendo aquellos que buscan asilo para encontrar seguridad. No deberíamos tratar a las personas de esta manera, punto. El Centro de Detención del Condado de Baker debe cerrarse ahora mismo y todos los detenidos dentro de sus paredes deben ser liberados de inmediato. Este es un problema de derechos humanos. Toda persona merece ser tratada con dignidad y respeto.”

Guadalupe de la Cruz, Florida program director, American Friends Service Committee:

“We believe it is time to push for common sense, create a coalition for love instead of hate, and discuss reallocating money to develop resources to support immigrants. The U.S. Government must reset the immigration system from a punitive approach to one based on humanity, compassion, fairness, and respect. We need to defund Hate and Choose Welcome; the Biden administration has the opportunity to create a more fair and Humane Immigration System; calls for changes to the system are more critical than ever.”

Mathi Mugilan, community organizer, Lake Worth Food Not Bombs:

“Under the Biden administration, ICE has detained tens of thousands of immigrants, including asylum seekers, jailing many in newly opened or expanded facilities and in remote areas where they often face insurmountable barriers to fairly presenting their asylum claims. Biden’s policies are resulting in the needless mass detention of people seeking protection from persecution in their home countries. By this way, the administration is violating the rights of asylum seekers, unnecessarily jailing thousands of people when they could be staying with family members or in supportive circumstances where they could pursue their cases safely.”


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.