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When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes a person into custody, it is referred to as “immigration detention.” The reasons an individual might end up in immigration detention range widely. Due to a series of harsh immigration laws that were passed in the 1990s, persons with minor visa violations, even asylum seekers, often end up in detention for months or years.

ICE currently detains about 200,000 immigrants a year. All indications show that this number will rise. Although detainees are not being held for criminal violations, the majority of them are confined in county jails and contract facilities under jail-like conditions. LGBT and HIV-positive detainees are particularly vulnerable in these severe environments. They are often the subjects of discrimination, harassment and outright abuse. HIV-positive detainees suffer additionally from the substandard health care in place at many of these facilities. We are dedicated to improving conditions for LGBT and HIV-positive detainees through documentation, education and advocacy.

Anyone who feels he or she has been mistreated in detention based upon being LGBT or HIV-positive should make a complaint with DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Additionally, DHS has offered guidance on releasing detainees if they have serious medical problems.

A very helpful resource on deportation and detention is Deportation 101, authored by Detention Watch Network, Families for Freedom, the Immigrant Defense Project,  and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.  This guide is also available in Spanish as Deportación 101.

In the spring of 2012 the American Bar Association released this videowhich it hopes to show to detainees around the country and help them better understand their rights.  It is a good introduction to the legal issues detainees face.