Lambda Legal, Immigrants' Rights and LGBT Groups Urge Homeland Security to Protect LGBT Immigrants' Rights in Detention Facilities

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"LGBT immigrants are among the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. The Department of Homeland Security must protect the civil rights of immigrants in detention centers."
June 8, 2011

(New York, June 8, 2011) - Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants and those with HIV experience gross mistreatment and abuse in immigration detention facilities, according to a letter submitted today to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security by Lambda Legal along with several immigrants' rights and LGBT and HIV groups.

The 14-page letter, signed by a range of LGBT and immigrants' rights groups, is written in support of the civil rights complaints filed by the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) that outline egregious civil rights violations in immigration facilities in nine states across the country. The letter states in part, "We urge DHS to conduct an expedited review of NIJC's complaints, and to work closely with stakeholders and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) field offices to adopt and implement reforms."

"LGBT immigrants and people living with HIV who are held in immigration detention facilities are systematically denied medical care, and abused physically, mentally, and sexually," said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. "LGBT immigrants are among the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. The Department of Homeland Security must protect the civil rights of immigrants in detention centers."

The letter points out that there are systemic problems in immigrant detention facilities across the country that begin with not knowing where and how to house LGBT individuals. LGBT individuals are being segregated, they are being placed in solitary confinement and transgender people are not assigned to housing in accordance with their gender identity. LGBT immigrants are being denied medically necessary treatments like those for gender identity disorder, including access to hormone treatment for transgender individuals. Immigrants with HIV continue to unnecessarily suffer - and even die - while in immigration detention because facilities fail to meet standards for the treatment of HIV in correctional settings. LGBT detainees in immigration detention facilities experience pervasive sexual, physical, and mental abuse.

The letter urges DHS to create and implement protocols that 1) guide detention facilities on where and how to house LGBT detainees, including the use of segregation and solitary confinement; 2) ensure medically necessary treatment for gender identity disorder; 3) adhere to national clinical protocols for the treatment of HIV, including HIV testing, education, counseling and confidentiality; and 4) protect LGBT individuals and people living with HIV from sexual, physical and mental abuse.

List of organizational signatories:

AIDS Foundation of Chicago
American Immigration Council
Center for Constitutional Rights
The Center for HIV Law and Policy
Equality Illinois
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
HIV Law Project
Human Rights Campaign
Latin American Legal Defense & Education Fund
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

Read the Letter to Homeland Security Regarding LGBT Immigrants

** Espinoza-Madrigal is fluent in Spanish**



Contact Info

Contact: Jonathan Adams 212-809-8585 ext 267;

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.