In December, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published draft regulations related to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to protect people at risk of rape and sexual assault in immigration detention facilities. For detained lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants, these comprehensive protections include important safeguards in areas of housing, recreation, bathing, searches, staff training and other day-to-day activities. You can read Immigration Equality’s previous blog post about the regulations here.
While these draft regulations will go far to protect detained LGBT immigrants from sexual assault, they still contain a number of flaws that must be corrected. As drafted, these regulations contain a loophole that allows detention centers to delay implementation of the protections until their contracts with ICE are renewed, but in some instances the contracts may not be renewed for decades, if at all. Until these rules are effectively implemented, Immigration Equality’s detained transgender clients will continue to risk being raped, or enduring torturous forms of solitary confinement in misguided attempts to protect them from sexual assault in detention.
DHS is accepting comments from the public about these regulations until February 26, 2013. Please click here, and tell the administration to require all detention centers to implement the PREA regulations swiftly. Tell them to stop detaining LGBT immigrants who cannot be safely housed in immigration jail. Your comments will help remind the federal government of its duty to protect the vulnerable LGBT immigrants in its custody from sexual abuse and to let them know that the LGBT community cares about our most vulnerable members who are caught in the cross-hairs of an inhumane system.