Immigrants who are LGBTQ face higher rates of sexual assault in the US while being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The federal law enforcement agency does not publish these statistics, but provided them to Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice after she asked for them.
Though LGBTQ immigrants only made up 0.14% of ICE detainees in the last fiscal year, they accounted for more than 12% of the alleged sexual assaults reported.
Rice and 36 other House Democrats sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today (30 May) about this problem.
ICE fails trans people
The letter details that transgender detainees suffer more abuse than others. In the Department of Homeland Security’s Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), it states there must be individualized custody for trans people.
‘Yet ICE reported to Representive Rice that, as of December 2017, 4 of the 17 facilities in which transgender women were detained were all-male and the rest were a mix of male and female populations,’ the letter states.
13% of trans detainees were placed in solitary confinement. ICE placed 14 people there, and another 25 asked to be placed in solitary for their own safety. This is despite PREA stating solitary confinement should be a last resort ‘for the least amount of time practiceable’.
‘We find this figure troubling and remain concerned about the length of time that LGBT immigrants are kept in solitary detention.’
What to do
Rice and her fellow Democrats recommend ICE uses discretion to release LGBTQ detainees and that ‘parole and alternatives to detention … are used instead’.
They ended their letter asking ICE several questions about their practices and to address them in a swift manner.