While there is much brouhaha over anti-immigration crackdowns, you rarely find space dedicated to assault against immigration detainees while they are in detention facilities. Human Rights Watch has just released a report that describes incidents of sexual abuse involving detainees in US detention facilities.
The report is titled Detained and at Risk: Sexual Abuse and Harassment in United States Immigration Detention. There is little information on exactly how many incidents of sexual abuse take place at detention facilities while immigrants are being detained. The Bureau of Justice does gather some data on the issue, but these are related to those detention centers that are run exclusively for Immigration Customs Enforcement. No data is gathered for abuse of detainees at local jails where the ICE rents bed space.
Fortunately, since May, there have been indications that the ICE is taking this problem seriously. That increased focus came after allegations that a guard at an immigration detention facility in Texas had groped female detainees while they were being transported to an airport. The guard has since been arrested.
The ICE is considering some changes to its policies, including measures that would prohibit guards from searching detainees of the opposite sex, as well as restrictions on when guards could transport detainees of the opposite sex. It is also planning a revision of standards on sexual assault, and enhanced data collection procedures.
However, according to Human Rights Watch, these measures may be inadequate. The organization is calling for
- Thorough investigation of all sexual abuse reports
- Better monitoring of compliance with detention standards
- Providing sexual assault survivors with on-site access to support services
- Access to relief measures that would include arranging visas for abused detainees so they could stay behind in the United States and assist law enforcement
- Informing detainees about their rights related to sexual harassment and abuse
- Requiring that detention facilities have strong evidence of infractions before officers are allowed to conduct pat down searches
The New Jersey immigration lawyers at Helmer, Conley and Kasselman are dedicated to the representation of individuals in matters relating to student visas, employment-based immigration, naturalization, labor certifications, TPS and other immigration-related matters.