Immigrant Women Allege Sexual Abuses and Detention Center

Karnes City, TX- A federal lawsuit alleges that at guards and faculty at a South Texas immigration detention center sexually abused women being held at the facility.

The complaint filed by attorneys for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) accused at least three guards and some staff members of sexually harassing and abusing their clients, sometimes in front other women and children.

The lawsuit alleges guards would grope and kiss the women in front their children and refer to them as their “novios” or girlfriend, according to Buzzfeed, but the harassment went much farther. The women told attorney that guards would take them out of their cells at night and early morning to preform sexual acts in various areas at the facility. Guards also offered the women money to retain immigrant counsel and promised to shelter them when they are freed.

MALDEF told My San Antonio that the women complained to staff members over a month ago, but attorney Marisa Bono, she isn’t certain if federal authorities have seen the complaints.

According to My San Antonio, the daily operations for the facility were contracted to a private company, the GEO Group Inc. State oversight of the facility is not possible since it is not licensed by Texas child welfare standards.

GEO Group told My San Antonio that they “strongly objects and refutes the allegations.”

ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said her agency “has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse or assault,” but didn’t not comment about the allegations.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed to curtail sexual abuse of inmates in any one incarcerated in the U.S., including immigration detention centers.

This particular 500-bed facility, which has predominately male guards was converted from an all-male facility on August 1st to accommodate some of the women and children apprehended at the border, according to the Associated Press. Other temporary shelters have been set up near the Southern Border to deal with the influx of Central American women and children seeking asylum and there are plans to build a larger facility that will hold over 2,000 immigrants.

Some of the immigrants at the Karnes City facility have been slated for expedited deportation. Some of the 60,000 Central American women and children apprehended at the border have been released and allowed to stay with family members living in the U.S.

With a massive backlog clogging up immigration courts, these immigrants could be detained for a months and perhaps a year or more before hearing a decision on their status. Many are seeking asylum which, without an immigration attorney, can be extremely difficult to obtain.

Even if an immigrant receives a notice of removal is not an absolute guarantees and immigrant will be deported. There are extenuating circumstances and policies that can allow an immigrant to challenge their deportation, increasing their chances of being allowed to remain in the U.S. With their experience, an immigration attorney is capable of providing their clients with an effective deportation defense.