LOS ANGELES : Conditions at INS Lockups Unconstitutional, Suit Says

Conditions at U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service lockups in San Pedro and elsewhere violate constitutional standards, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The six plaintiffs, all of whom are being held at INS facilities awaiting deportation, are seeking certification of the case as a national class action. The detainees are also requesting a court order enjoining several practices.

Among other things, the action charges that INS prisoners are wrongly held in isolation, provided with inadequate medical and dental care and exposed to detainees with contagious diseases. Those held are also denied sufficient exercise, visits with relatives and access to law books and telephones, the lawsuit alleges.

“This is a major challenge to INS detention practices and policies nationwide,” said Peter A. Schey, who heads the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a Los Angeles-based legal advocacy organization handling the case.


Patricia Trubiano, an INS spokeswoman in Washington, said she had not heard of the lawsuit and could not comment.