US politicians have taken a stand against the ‘appalling’ sexual abuse of gay immigrants in detention centers.
Congressmen Mike Quigley and Jared Polis are calling on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate and improve conditions at Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, and those with which they contract.
The move comes after almost 200 allegations of abuse against detainees, many of who are gay or transgender, have been reported to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2007.
‘The continued reports of sexual abuse against immigrants in ICE detention facilities are appalling,' said Representative Polis.
‘Here we have people who are at their most vulnerable — many without access to any legal assistance — who are being preyed upon and assaulted.’
Rep. Quigley says the government has a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of any person under its charge.
He said: ‘The pervasive and systematic abuse of detainees held in immigration detention facilities, especially gay and transgender individuals, is unconscionable and should be addressed at the highest level.’
However, he says he is confident efforts will be made to resolve the matter.
In a letter to the GAO, led by Quigley and Polis and signed by 28 other Members of Congress, it was urged that an investigation should include facilities run by the ICE, private facilities under contract with the ICE to hold immigration detainees.
It should also include those public facilities, such as county jails, also under contract with ICE.
The letter requested that the GAO identify what steps the DHS is taking to rectify the problem and suggest additional actions the department should consider to ensure that sexual abuse does not continue to plague the immigration detention system.