Reports of Abuse at Texas Family Detention Facility Should be Promptly Investigated
New York City– Human Rights First calls on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of sexual abuse at the immigration detention center in Karnes City, Texas. The facility is primarily used to hold mothers and children from Central America who are seeking asylum in the United States.
“Immediate action should be taken to protect women and children from abusive treatment and to hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Human Rights First’s Andrea Guttin, one of the signatories to the complaint. “The allegations of sexual abuse are alarming and must be looked in to fully.”
The allegations of sexual abuse include reports that several guards or personnel at the facility used their positions and power to request sexual favors from women held at the facility in exchange for money and promises of assistance with pending immigration cases. A report of abuse was raised by a detainee at the facility last month, and earlier this week a group of attorneys, including those from Human Rights First, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the University of Texas School of Law, and the Law Office of Javier N. Maldonado, submitted a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security, its Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“It is deeply disturbing that women and children who have sought this country’s protection have been put in this vulnerable position,” added Guttin. “Rather than increasing family detention, the Obama Administration should abandon its use of detention for families seeking asylum and instead employ alternative measures in cases where additional monitoring is needed to support appearance for hearings.”