More than 100 immigrants were pepper sprayed at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Louisiana this weekend, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
The detainees were pepper sprayed at the ICE Processing Center in Pine Prairie on Saturday, just a day after guards pepper sprayed more than 30 immigrant detainees at a separate facility in rural Louisiana.
The incident in Pine Prairie was not publicly disclosed.
The inmates at Pine Prairie — where more than 1,000 ICE detainees can be held at one time — were pepper sprayed after they demonstrated in the center’s yard, the source said. The inmates were then taken to a separate part of the facility to decontaminate.
ICE officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The day before, on Friday, guards at the Bossier Parish Medium Security Facility also pepper sprayed more than 30 inmates for protesting, the source said. Mother Jones first reported the incident at Bossier Parish.
Immigration officials have come under increased scrutiny from advocates and congressional officials as ICE has expanded the number of detainees in its custody to levels never before seen. While the agency was funded to house around 42,000 immigrant detainees, it has surpassed that mark to reach a new record: 55,185 inmates.
Earlier this year, the Pine Prairie facility, which is operated by GEO Group, a private prison company that runs many ICE jails, was struck with a mumps outbreak. At the time, advocates said the outbreak limited legal access for immigrant detainees with the infectious disease.
In April, an inmate at the facility, along with detainees at other facilities in the region, alleged that ICE officials categorically refused to release them after they applied for asylum.