• Gary Carnivele

LGBT Immigrants in Detention Centers at Severe Risk of Sexual Abuse, CAP Analysis Says

Disturbing new government data shows that LGBT immigrants held at federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress.

The CAP analysis is based on data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that was requested by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Although LGBT people accounted for just 0.1 percent of ICE’s detained population in fiscal year 2017, they accounted for a staggering 12 percent of victims of sexual assaults reported in ICE detention, the data shows.

“These actions are reckless and unacceptable and will only lead to more LGBT people being sexually victimized on ICE’s watch,” said Sharita Gruberg, associate director of CAP’s LGBT Research and Communications Project and author of the analysis.

Not only is ICE placing LGBT immigrants in harm’s way, but the agency has also reverted to its practice of detaining transgender women with men or in solitary confinement, contrary to its own rules. ICE data show that 1 in 8 transgender people detained in FY 2017 were placed in solitary confinement. Placing LGBT people in solitary confinement for their own protection is considered a form of torture by the United Nations.

letter today signed by more than three dozen members of Congress calls on Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to ensure that in the absence of extenuating circumstances, LGBT people are released from custodial detention. The letter suggests that parole or alternatives to detention, such as supervised release and community placements, be used instead to ensure the safety of this population throughout immigration proceedings.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at 202-478-6327



Queer Asylum Accompaniment Team is proud to support LGBTQIA asylum seekers who need sponsors. Sponsoring will allow asylum seekers to spend the months waiting for their asylum claims living in the community after leaving detention centers where they are vulnerable to abuse. 

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