On February 3, 2011 the office of Attorney General Eric Holder offered a proposal to the standards already enacted in Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. The proposed standards which would detect, prevent, reduce, and punish sexual abuse of people in government custody but would deny safeguard to detainees in US immigration facilities. Jamie Fellner, senior counsel for the US program at Human Rights Watch, and ten other organizations urged President Obama and the Justice Department in a letter to re evaluate this exclusion of immigrant detainees on basis of human rights. Fellner said “Rape is rape, whether in a federal prison, a local lockup, or an immigration detention facility.” Excluding immigrant detainees would only bring about larger issues. As it is immigration detention is the fastest-growing incarceration system in the US and within this system sexual violence is a grave issue. Since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was established in 2003, there have been over fifty incidents and allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment according to Human Rights Watch in 2010. This excludes individuals who were too afraid to speak up in immigration detention centers. If the Prison Rape Elimination Act offers protection of all federal, state, local confinement facilities there is no reason to stray away from the original standards.
Sources: “Us: Protect Detainees in Immigration Facilities from Rape—Don’t Exempt These Facilities from Protection Measures” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch, February 2011 http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/02/15/us-protect-detainees-immigration-facilities-rape
Student Researcher: Mayra Garces and Natalie Hill
Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley
Evaluator: Glen David Kuecker, Associate Professor of Latin American History, Latin American and Caribbean Studies.