Advocates, Members of Congress Call for Release of LGBTQ Immigrants as ICE Announces Transgender Detention Measures
Washington, DC - Last week, 35 members of Congress sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling for sharp limits on the use of detention of LGBTQ immigrants due to their vulnerability to sexual assault. And today, DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued guidance on the detention of transgender non-citizens.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Immigrant Justice Center, United We Dream, Immigration Equality, and the Human Rights Campaign welcome these long-overdue developments but insist that ICE can and must do more to protect LGBTQ immigrants. We stress that the core question here is why so many vulnerable people are imprisoned by ICE in the first place to await immigration court hearings. Earlier this week, the Secretary of DHS stated that the detention of women and children who are seeking asylum was an inappropriate use of agency resources; for LGBTQ individuals, the same logic applies. This community is at the highest risk of rape and assault, and for most there is no compelling reason to justify their detention. Indeed, a recent Center for American Progress report shows that ICE routinely detains LGBTQ immigrants who it knows are at great risk and should not be behind bars.
Together with immigrant and LGBTQ communities nationwide, we will continue pressing DHS and ICE to move away from the needless, costly, and dangerous policy of mass detention.
"ICE's guidelines finally acknowledges what we've known for a long time: transgender people cannot be held safely in detention," said Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Racial and Economic Justice Initiative Policy Advisor at NCTE. "Though the guidance represents a significant improvement in how transgender immigration detainees will be treated, ICE's record on implementing guidance such as this is mixed. To really end the suffering transgender detainees face, the Obama Administration must release transgender detainees for whom being in detention makes them a target of sexual assault and violence."