Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a 93 page summary of their investigation into immigration detention facilities and whether they are properly reporting the sexual abuse of immigrant detainees. The report unveils the ongoing failures of immigration detention facilities in reporting and addressing instances of sexual abuse that occur far too frequently in immigration detention sites. For example, the GAO report details the experience of a transgender woman who was sexually assaulted by a male guard while in solitary confinement in a male facility. In this case, the guard admitted to the abuse and was prosecuted by federal authorities. However, the report explained that many allegations of sexual abuse by detainees around the country go unreported and unaddressed by detention staff. Shockingly, at the facilities that GAO visited during their investigation, 40% of the allegations made by detainees had not been reported to ICE headquarters as required.
Over the years, NCTE has worked to prevent the sexual assault of all people in confinement. We have especially highlighted the abuse of transgender immigrants, who are among the most vulnerable to abuse. In addition to encouraging the Department of Homeland Security to issue strong regulations that comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, NCTE released a report detailing trans immigrants’ struggles, and encouraged ICE to improve its monitoring of the use of solitary confinement. Although DHS has made some important steps forward, much still needs to be done to ensure that all immigrants, and especially vulnerable transgender immigrants, are free from abuse and mistreatment in detention.