Advocates Condemn Plan to Detain Transgender Women at Adelanto
New York, NY — Today, over 100 national and local LGBTQ, immigrant, and civil rights organizations urged President Obama to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from considering the Adelanto Detention Facility as a center to detain transgender immigrants.
The Adelanto Detention Facility in Southern California is geographically remote and poorly suited for transgender immigrants. The facility is in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, which is a four-hour round trip from Los Angeles. Placing transgender immigrants in the facility would effectively prevent any independent oversight by advocates and would severely limit transgender immigrants’ access to attorneys.
On August 13, 2014, LGBTQ advocates toured the Adelanto Detention Facility and spoke to individuals detained there. “We met a woman from Guatemala who had been placed in the men’s housing unit. The government did not even seem to know she was there,” said Aaron C. Morris, Legal Director of Immigration Equality.
Like pregnant women and minor children, LGBTQ individuals are some of the most vulnerable populations in detention. ICE should not place such at-risk groups in isolated facilities. The risk that they will be mistreated is too great. If the government cannot detain LGBTQ immigrants safely, it should not detain them at all. Instead, it should utilize alternative to detention programs, which are a more humane, inexpensive, and effective solution.
“Stop the abuse and criminalization of our communities and our bodies! #Not1More trans detention and killing! #StopTransMurders,” stated Edna Monroy, Southern California organizer at the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.
“ICE must take responsibility for the safety, well-being, and fundamental due process rights of the people caught up in its national detention system. Transferring transgender women to Adelanto would make a mockery of this responsibility,” said Kathy Doan, Executive Director of the Capital Area Immigrants Rights’ (CAIR) Coalition.
“No one should fear for their life or personal safety in our corrections system,” said Ellie Perez, member of the Equality Arizona Board of Directors. “LGBTQ people in detention are disproportionately at risk of violence and mistreatment. Equality Arizona is proud to stand by a wide range of diverse organizations from all over our country calling on President Obama to ensure ICE cannot place transgender women in isolated facilities where they are at great risk.”
“Transferring transgender women to the Adelanto Detention Facility, where countless violations and failures to protect vulnerable populations have been documented and reported, is not only dangerous but inhumane. Rather than finding safety in the US, Transgender people continue to be misgendered during detention placements, denied transition-related care, and humiliated for being trans. Detention is not safe for LGBTQ Immigrants,” stated Myra Llerenas, Southern New Mexico Field Organizer for Equality New Mexico.
“Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly. We ask those things of our government,” stated Frances Browne, chair of the Immigrant Justice Network of Grant and Luna Counties, New Mexico.
“It’s time for the federal government to update its detention practices in terms of practicality, safety and assuring basic human dignity. Respect for human rights is a given, we don’t need a Congressional vote to do what’s humane and right for those in the immigration detention system especially in regard to Trans individuals whom likely qualify for asylum,” stated Ari Gutierrez, co-founder and Advisory Board Chair of the Latino Equality Alliance, an LGBT advocacy group based in Los Angeles.
“GEO Group, the infamous for-profit prison company that runs Adelanto, has a long history of abusing transgender women, asylum seekers, and people with disabilities. For example, Barbra Perez is a trans woman detained by GEO who was tortured in solitary confinement and denied necessary medical care while ICE tried to use the mistreatment to coerce her to accept deportation rather than fight her immigration case. Meanwhile, at Adelanto, Gerardo Corrales developed a life-threatening infection because GEO forced him to reuse dirty catheters. The President should shut down Adelanto instead of detaining trans women there,” said Olga Tomchin, Deportation Defense Coordinator and Staff Attorney of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
“Transgender women who have fled persecution and have come to the US to seek a safe haven should not be retraumatized by being imprisoned in inhumane conditions,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, President of the National Lawyers Guild. “Rather, they should have the right to seek asylum while being afforded respect for their human dignity.”
“Everyone, regardless of who they are or the person they love, deserves a fighting chance to provide for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, undocumented immigrants are still denied access to the promise of America. Far worse is the treatment of undocumented immigrant pregnant women, children, persons living with HIV, and LGBTQ people in detention centers. At these profit-driven detention facilities, LGBTQ people are fifteen times more likely than others to experience physical assault and rape. It is crystal clear that the most vulnerable cannot be kept safe at the Adelanto detention center and similar facilities. We urge the Administration to halt the transfer of people to the Adelanto Detention Facility and instead release all undocumented LGBTQ immigrants once and for all,” said Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director.
“It is imperative that we end the abusive treatment and blatant disregard for the safety of transgender women in detention centers, women who are often refugees fleeing violence and the threat of death in their home countries. Due to its remote location, just sending trans women to the Adelanto facility constitutes abuse because it sets barriers to legal representation and all but removes support of family and friends,” said Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative. “Additionally, the record of the for-profit GEO group — and ICE in general — for ensuring the safety of trans women is abysmal. Please stop these abuses. Please end the policy of detaining vulnerable persons in such dehumanizing facilities and conditions under such proven incompetent management.”