Activists and advocates are calling for the release of a transgender woman of color after she was raped by her cell mate at an immigration detention center in Arizona. The Eloy Detention Center in Phoenix has detained 23-year-old Marichuy, who identifies as a trans woman, for over a year in the privately-owned, 1,437-detainee facility. NotOneMoreDeportation.com has launched a petition calling for Marichuy's release with over 50 endorsing organizations.
According to the Transgender Law Center (TLC), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials failed to take adequate action to ensure Marichuy's safety after she received threats of abuse and rape from her cellmate. After she reported the rape, officials attempted to pressure Marichuy into signing a declaration that it was consensual sex. A statement on TLC's website reads:
"The Eloy Detention Center, run by the Corrections Corporation of America, is known for enabling and creating a culture of abuse and neglect: two detained immigrants committed suicide there within a week of each other last year and abuse and neglect of detained LGBTQ immigrants is commonplace, according to reports from those currently and previously detained there."
A report from the Center for American Progress noted that, despite ICE's creation of policies addressing sexual assault and abuse, the government agency has not developed the controls necessary to ensure compliance among field-office officials. Upon examining 215 allegations of sexual assault and abuse at ICE detention centers from October 2009 to March 2013, the Government Accountability Office found that 40 % of the allegations were never even reported to ICE headquarters, and that detainees face many barriers to reporting abuse in the first place.
The petition for Marichuy's release includes a statement from her mother:
"ICE knows they are responsible for her safety but they let this happen. I wish that ICE officials would put themselves in my shoes, as a mother. How would they feel if someone they loved were in this position? Anger isn’t enough to express what I feel. We need her home.”
You can help raise awareness of Marichuy's case and call for her release by signing and sharing the petition, and using the hashtag #FreeMarichuy.