While we have an imperative to advance short and long term protections for LGBTQ people and all people in immigration detention, our experience with guidance documents such as these is that their implementation is inconsistent and with little oversight or accountability. In addition, this guidance still allows for practices that have been denounced as inhumane — including administrative segregation, ‘protective custody,’ and isolated pods — as adequate forms of housing for transgender individuals. Every one of these practices has failed to protect transgender immigrants, particularly women, from rape, sexual and physical abuse and dangerous living conditions in detention.Last week, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva and others members of Congress sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking the agency to make significant changes of how it treats LGBT detainees, and to consider offering alternatives to detention.
Lastly, it is extremely concerning that this guidance does not mandate that contracted detention facilities sign on to pre-existing protections such as to the Contract Modification for Transgender Care. This will result in a continuation of the practice of using isolation or inadequate GBT specific pods to detain transgender women.
Our communities, especially those most impacted, continue to mobilize and organize around a primary demand: end the detention and deportation system. In ICE’s brutal and unjust detention system, everyone of our loved ones is vulnerable. Trans women of color, like Jennicet Gutierrez, are on the frontlines fighting these injustices. We will continue to fight until the cruel practice of detention is ended and detainees are afforded long-term solutions regarding their residency, employment, and citizenship status.
Just last week 35 Congresspeople sent a letter to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, emphasizing our demand and asking for the release of LGBTQ immigrants. Elected officials see the urgency to hold ICE accountable for the continued torture, rape, and abuse that gender non-conforming people, transgender women and others face in detention centers, and the detention to deportation pipeline.
We will continue to organize and demand that President Obama’s administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement release LGBTQ immigrants from detention and end all immigrant detention as a crucial step in combating the criminalization faced by immigrants, Black people, other people of color, women and LGBTQ folks.”