Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Sharita Gruberg reports that, more than a decade after Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, published standards to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and assault in immigration detention facilities. A congressional mandate requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to detain 34,000 immigrants every day who may be subject to removal under immigration law. The 249 facilities in which ICE holds immigrants are currently covered by a patchwork of standards, and prior to the establishment of the PREA standards in March, no one standard bound all facilities. Protection from sexual abuse in immigration detention is particularly important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, individuals as they are among the most vulnerable to sexual abuse in confinement. DHS introduced PREA standards in early March to establish a “zero tolerance standard” for rape and to protect immigrants in detention facilities from sexual abuse. These standards are an important step toward protecting immigrants, but further reforms are still needed.