[m2c] Female Migrants Charge Sexual Abuse in Detention
sandinista at shaw.ca
Wed Jun 9 15:29:46 MDT 2010
Female Migrants Charge Sexual Abuse in Detention
By William Fisher
NEW YORK, Jun 7, 2010 (IPS) - In the wake of allegations that a male
guard at a central Texas detention facility sexually assaulted female
detainees on their way to being deported, immigrant advocacy groups
say stronger oversight and accountability is urgently needed to
prevent further abuse of female detainees.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS), said last week that the guard has been fired.
It added that Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison
company that manages the Hutto facility, has been placed on probation
pending the investigation's outcome. The consequences of probation
were not immediately clear.
ICE said that several women who were held at Hutto facility in Taylor,
Texas, were groped while being patted down and at least one was
propositioned for sex.
"We understand that this employee was able to commit these alleged
crimes because ICE-mandated transport policies and procedures were not
followed," David Sanders, DHS's contracting officer, said in a letter
to Corrections Corporation of America obtained by The Associated
ICE has ordered Corrections Corporation of America to take corrective
actions. Among them is forbidding male guards from being alone with
"Hutto is not an isolated incident," Jacki Esposito of Detention Watch
Network, a coalition of organisations that monitors ICE treatment of
detainees, told IPS. "Allegations of sexual assault have plagued other
facilities where immigrants are being held by the federal government."
"The latest story of abuse in the U.S. immigration detention system
highlights yet again the fact that the immigration detention system is
in need of serious repair," she said. "This scandal is only the latest
to come to light in a detention system that has been plagued by abuse,
negligence, and even deaths. Stronger oversight and accountability
within DHS and from Congress is urgently needed."
Her view was echoed by Brittney Nystrom, director of policy and legal
affairs at the National Immigration Forum (NIF) a non-partisan,
non-profit pro-immigrant advocacy organisation in Washington.
She told IPS, "The most disturbing thing about these charges is that
involve a facility that's supposed to be the shining star of ICE's
detention policy. Instead it turns out to be an example of poor
oversight and bad management."
Ali Noorani, NIF's executive director, said, "News of fresh abuses at
this facility is deeply disturbing... The innocent victims of this
guard's abuse are yet further evidence that ICE is warehousing
hundreds of thousands of detained immigrants in a poorly managed
system that cannot keep them safe."
The Hutto facility formerly held families, including children, in a
setting that critics have labeled totally inappropriate for such a
purpose, and attracted both litigation and protesters. Last year, it
was converted to a facility for female detainees, conditions were
modified, and it was lauded by ICE as a model facility.
"The problem stems from several factors," Noorani said. "Most
importantly, the agency's enforcement of hopelessly outdated
immigration laws funnels many thousands of non- criminal immigration
violators into a network of jails designed to serve the criminal
justice system. There are so many immigration detainees that ICE must
contract the work to companies that run penal institutions, and there
is too little oversight of those contracts and personnel."
"This is not the first scandal arising from the way DHS enforces the
immigration law, and it will not be the last," he added. "DHS must
step up its efforts to create a system where abuse and death are rare,
and when they do occur the persons responsible are promptly held
accountable. Congress must do its part to both monitor the agency and
reform the laws that DHS is obligated to enforce."
In March, ICE took what a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups
generally hailed as "important steps to address immigration detention
conditions that are currently a national embarrassment".
"The network of for-profit and government-run facilities that detain
deportees needs to be tightly scrutinised and this is a tremendously
positive step in that direction," they said in a statement. "The Hutto
facility alone has stood out as a worst-case example - among many
other egregious sites - and we are pleased that press attention,
lawsuits, and public outcry have sparked definitive action."
The groups concluded that the "single most important thing we can do
with regard to immigrant detention is to reduce the need for its use
for millions of non-criminals, families, and workers in the first
"Until all of us are free, the few who think they are remain tainted
with enslavement." Lee Maracle
More information about the margins-to-centre