NCTE to Secretary Napolitano: Stop sexual abuse in Immigration detention camps

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is set to issue a series of directives that will take some steps to help ensure the safety and treatment of LGBT detainees in the immigration system, but the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is calling on her to ensure those directives are enforced, and to add certain protections.

According to NCTE, under Napolitano's current plans, the facilities where immigration detainees are held would not be pressured to implement these protections immediately or even at all. The problem is worse for those who are intersex or transgender, who face higher rates of rape, sexual assault and violence. There is currently a petition being circulated which is aimed at putting more pressure on Napolitano to strengthen the provisions that protect trans and intersex people, and make facilities comply. NCTE is calling on Secretary Napolitano to add provisions to protect detainees from retaliatory deportation, to increase access to existing types of legal status for survivors of abuse, and to prevent sexual abuse during detainee transportation. The group also wants facility staff to receive training on working with LGBTI people, and assurances that transgender and intersex detainees will be housed and searched based on their gender identity.

Members of the LGBT community, specifically trans and gender non-conforming persons when incarcerated often face mistreatment by fellow inmates and prison staff. A study of California prisons found that transgender women in men's prisons were 13 times as likely to be sexually abused as other inmates (Center for evidence-Based Corrections, 2009).

In May of 2012, the U.S. department of Justiceimplemented the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to provide protections to LGBTI people in prisons and jails, short-term police lock-ups, juvenile detention centers and community confinement facilities.