A Texas advocacy group has come forward with a complaint alleging “guards in an immigrant detention center in El Paso sexually assaulted and harassed inmates in a “pattern and practice” of abuse.” The complaint urges “the local district attorney and federal prosecutors to conduct a criminal investigation” into the matter. The Texas Tribune says the filing states that guards “systematically assaulted at least three people in a facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — often in areas of the detention center not visible to security cameras.
The source says guards of all ranks, including lieutenant, have also been accused of telling victims that if they were to report the incident, “no one would believe them” because it was not being captured by cameras.
The complaint, which was filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, highlights an incident involved a woman who is scheduled to be deported next week. The woman is claiming that “several guards “forcibly” kissed and touched [her] intimate parts.” The source says that woman’s attorneys have requested that immigration officials pause her deportation until after the allegations have been properly investigated. However, the woman has expressed that she “would rather return to Mexico” as she fears she will be “targeted in the detention center for speaking up about the abuse.
After that complaint was filed, the source says two more women came forward with complaints of their own, one of which who is still being held in the El Paso detention center. One other woman was also allegedly assaulted by a guard, however, she has already been deported.
The source says the allegations listed in the complaint came to light after a Salvadoran woman who was detained in the El Paso facility was released because of a medical condition and informed an attorney that she “feared for the detainees still there.” The woman claims that while detained, she was repeatedly harassed. One guard allegedly told the woman that if she agreed to “fool around with him,” he would provide her with clean uniforms and soap.” That same guard was also accused of offering her a lot of money to “meet him for sex in a spot not visible to cameras.”
Between 2010 and 2016, “about 14,700 complaints alleging sexual and physical abuse were lodged against ICE.” The advocacy group that obtained this data says only a small percentage of those complaints were actually investigated by the Office of Inspector General.
Detained immigrants aren’t only dealing with the issues that landed them in a detention center but also the unhealthy and even dangerous conditions they are subjected to live in while being held in ICE custody. If you or someone you know was or currently is being mistreated or sexually harassed by an immigration official, don’t wait to contact the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen. Regardless of why you were placed in ICE custody, you have rights and it is important that those rights are protected.
If you would like to discuss the incident that transpired or you need help addressing a different type of immigration-related issue, contact the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen to speak with a Texas immigration lawyer now.
You can reach the Law Office of J. Joseph Cohen at:
310 South St. Mary’s Street, Suite 2100
San Antonio, Texas 78205