Contact: Will Matthews, (212) 549-2582 or 2666; email@example.com
NEW YORK – Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through the Freedom of Information Act provide a first-ever window into the breadth of the national problem of sexual abuse of detainees in immigration detention facilities.
The ACLU is making information from the documents public for the first time today, in concert with the filing by the ACLU of Texas of a federal class action damages lawsuit on behalf of three immigrant women who were sexually assaulted while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Center in Taylor, Texas along with numerous others who experienced similar trauma.
Government documents obtained by the ACLU contain nearly 200 allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees jailed at detention facilities across the nation since 2007 alone. The documents were obtained from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and ICE. While the information gleaned from the documents likely does not represent the full scope of the problem given that sexual abuse is notoriously underreported, the documents nonetheless make clear that the sexual abuse of immigration detainees is not an isolated problem limited to a few rogue facilities or the result of a handful of bad apple government contractors who staff some of the nation’s immigration jails. According to the documents, while facilities in Texas are the focus of more allegations by far than any other state, sexual abuse allegations have come from nearly every state in the nation that houses an immigration detention facility.
“It is clear there is an urgent need for the government to recognize just how pervasive a problem the sexual abuse of immigration detainees is and take immediate steps to fix the problem and ensure that everyone in the government’s care is protected,” said David Shapiro, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. “The detainees in immigration detention are a particularly vulnerable population. Even one incident of sexual abuse is one too many.”
An ACLU website launched today devoted to the problem of sexual abuse in immigration detention, including an interactive map depicting information obtained through the ACLU’s FOIA documents as well as information about the ACLU of Texas lawsuit, can be found at: www.aclu.org/sexual-abuse-immigrant-detention
A special blog series on immigration detention beginning today on the ACLU’s Blog of Rights and running through the month of October can be found at: www.aclu.org/blog/tag/End%20ICE%20Abuse