Stop Abuse of Detained LGBT Immigrants

Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) filed 17 complaints in 2011 with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Office of Inspector General demanding that the Obama administration investigate abuse allegations and take action to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants in DHS custody.

The complaints describe violations including sexual assault, denial of medical and mental health treatment, arbitrary long-term solitary confinement, and frequent harassment by officers and facility personnel. The experiences of the courageous individuals who submitted complaints reflect the wrongful treatment suffered by hundreds of LGBT and other vulnerable immigrants in DHS detention facilities throughout the country.

The individuals who filed complaints all came to the United States to escape persecution in their native countries, only to face continued abuse in the immigration system. DHS cannot continue to detain people if the U.S. government cannot protect them.

Since NIJC filed the complaints, policy makers and advocates from across the country have come together to defend the rights of LGBT immigrants in detention.


Vox: The government knows LGBT immigrants are often raped in detention. It puts them there anyway. (May 2015)

Buzzfeed: Police Violence in India Drives a Gay Couple to the U.S. -- And a Detention Cell (January 2014)

NIJC renews call to implement Prison Rape Elimination Act in immigration detention following Government Accountability Office report on sexual assault (November 2013)

Center for American Progress report Dignity Denied: LGBT Immigrants in U.S. Immigration Detention
(November 2013)

Voice of OC: A Fight for Asylum Raises Awareness for LGBT Detainees (October 2013)

Media coverage of government steps to limit solitary confinement (September 2013)

The Advocate: Eight Months in Solitary: Is a government turf war over immigration detention putting transgender lives at risk? (May 2012)

NIJC press release announcing the filing of four supplemental complaints of inhumane treatment of LGBT immigrant detainees (October 2011)

NIJC update on response to the civil rights complaint (July 2011)

Letter from Lambda Legal and 16 other advocacy organizations calling on Obama administration to end abuse of detained LGBT immigrants (June 2011)

Proposed New York City Council resolution calling on DHS to investigate civil rights complaints (June 2011)

NIJC cover letter for civil rights complaint (April 2011)

NIJC press release announcing the filing of civil rights complaint on behalf of 13 detained LGBT immigrants (April 2011)

Letters from Members of Congress

Letter from 28 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Government Accountability Office requesting an investigation into sexual violence in U.S. immigration detention system (January 2012)

Letter from 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives calling on DHS to investigate reports of abuse (June 2011)


Read about NIJC's efforts to apply the Prison Rape Elimination Act to immigrants in DHS custody




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