Dems Call on ICE to Release Transgender Detainees
January 15, 2020 | by James G. Dalton
A letter drafted by House Democrats will call on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release all transgender detainees because the agency has failed to follow guidelines to make modifications to house them, The Hill reports.
Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., is behind the draft letter addressed to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting ICE Director Matthew Albence.
He is asking fellow Democrats to sign it by Friday.
“Transgender migrants and asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, solitary confinement, physical assault, and medical neglect,” the letter reads. “These inhumane conditions and systematic abuses are evidenced in countless reports and accounts by formally detained people.”
According the The Hill, the letter cites research from the Human Rights Campaign, Amnesty International and the Center for American Progress that says transgender migrant detainees are more likely to face “the pervasive use of solitary confinement” and are “97 times more likely to be sexually victimized” than “their cis-gender and straight counterparts in detention.”
The fiscal 2020 spending report includes language requiring how transgender detainees are treated, the letter notes, adding that since ICE has not followed previous guidelines it is “legally obligated to immediately release all transgender individuals currently in its custody.”
Those guidelines include at 2015 ICE memo titled “Further Guidance Regarding the Care of Transgender Detainees.
“As far as we are aware, no facility has ever entered into a contract modification pursuant to the 2015 memo, which means that by the plain text of this language ICE is now legally obligated to immediately release every transgender person in detention,” Quigley wrote to fellow Democrats. “The agency has options in how it achieves this — it can release people to the community or into supervised alternative-to-detention programming, but it must release them.”