To the Department of Homeland Security
- Institute legally binding
detention standards applicable across all types of immigration detention
facilities. Issue regulations with standards for conditions of
detention in ICE custody, so that the standards have the force of law.
- Appoint a Prison Rape
Elimination Act coordinator. Augment the capacity of the Office of
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties by establishing a position dedicated to
implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. One function of such a
position would be to coordinate trainings for ICE headquarters, field
office, and detention facility staff.
- Publish information on reported incidents of sexual
assault. DHS should also cooperate with the Bureau of Justice
Statistics on research into the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse,
and make the findings publicly available.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
- Ensure that reports of
sexual abuse are thoroughly investigated. Investigations should
include an inquiry into the actions or failures to act by all ICE
employees and contractors responsible for that facility. Without
compromising victim confidentiality, the results and progress of
investigations should be made public. ICE should cooperate with the
Department of Justice and law enforcement authorities to ensure that
criminal sanctions are pursued where appropriate.
- Expedite implementation of
the detention standard on sexual assault and abuse prevention and
intervention across all facilities holding ICE detainees. Special
attention should be given to the swift implementation of the detention
standard on sexual assault and abuse prevention and intervention. The
standard was first included in the 2008 Performance Based National
Detention Standards. However, those standards have not been put into
effect across all facilities, meaning that some facilities have no
standards at all on this issue. The 2008 standard has since been revised,
but the new version has not been released publicly. ICE should expedite
the publication and implementation of the new standard.
- Improve the monitoring of
facility compliance with detention standards. Monitoring should be
carried out by multiple independent, nongovernmental organizations that do
not contract with ICE for other services. Contracts for monitoring should
be non-renewable to eliminate incentives for biased reviews. The
monitoring should include random inspections with unlimited access to the
facility and should allow for detainees to speak privately with monitors
during inspections. The monitors’ findings should be made public.
- Require detention centers
to facilitate on-site access for local community providers of support
services for sexual assault survivors. Wherever a willing, reputable
community provider of services to sexual assault survivors is available
for partnership, facilities should be required to coordinate with the
provider on prevention and response programs, including arranging for the
provider to have access to the facility for information sessions and
consultations with the detainee population.
- Standardize procedures for
ensuring access to appropriate immigration relief and release from detention
for victims and witnesses. Formal procedures should be developed to
ensure detainees are apprised of and given access to avenues of
immigration relief, such as the U- and T-visas, which allow victims of
crime and of trafficking, respectively, temporary leave to stay and
cooperate in the investigation of the crimes, with the potential to later
adjust to permanent status. This should happen as a matter of course on
taking someone into custody and in particular following allegations of
abuse. Formal procedures should also be developed to prevent deportation
of potential victims and witnesses, and to explore possibilities for their
release. ICE should create a publically available U-visa certification
policy that clarifies a process for certification and how an individual
would know she or he is eligible.
- Eliminate cross-gender
searches. Ensure that the recently announced change to prohibit guards
from conducting cross-gender body searches is included in the final
- Require reasonable suspicion
for pat searches on detainees within detention facilities. After a
detainee has been searched upon admission to a facility, reasonable
suspicion should be required to justify additional intrusions on their
- Ensure that detainees are
fully informed about their rights with respect to sexual assault, abuse,
and harassment. This should include amending the detainee handbook to
include definitions of sexual abuse and sexual harassment so that the
prohibition on sexual contact between guards and detainees is clear.
Handbooks and complaint procedures at all facilities should be translated
into multiple languages.
- Institute procedures for
ensuring the safety of detainees at a heightened risk of abuse.
Procedures should address how to determine the safest housing assignments
for detainees at heightened risk of abuse, including detainees with mental
disabilities and mentally ill detainees, especially those on medication.
- Ensure access to appropriate medical treatment for
survivors of assault. Whether detainees are treated inside or outside
the facility for sexual assault, they should have access to the full range
of treatment options, including for sexually transmitted diseases and
To the Department of Justice
- Issue regulations based on
the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission’s recommendations
without delay. PREA called for DOJ to propose regulations on prison
rape within one year of receiving the recommended standards from the
National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. That year has passed with no
- Review the department’s experience in prosecuting
sexual assault and abuse in immigration detention. In conjunction with
ICE, conduct a review of reported cases of sexual assault and abuse to
identify any procedural obstacles that have inhibited the prosecution of
perpetrators of abuse.
To the US Congress
- Demand disclosure of ICE
records related to sexual assault, abuse, and harassment in detention. Require
ICE to produce records detailing the number of reports of such misconduct
received through multiple possible channels (the ICE Office of
Professional Responsibility, the DHS Office of Inspector General, and the
Joint Intake Center, among others) and the action taken in response to
- Pass legislation setting standards. Write into law
minimum standards for conditions at all types of immigration detention