On Wednesday, an immigrant woman formerly in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody in Houston sued a private prison company, CoreCivic, after she was raped in 2018 in a dark, isolated cell along with two other women the day before she was deported to Mexico.
The woman, Jane Doe, became pregnant as a result of the rape and has suffered great ongoing physical and emotional trauma and stress from the incident. She is suing so that this trauma does not happen to people going forward.
A report by CoreCivic for the U.S. government showed that there were at least eight allegations of sexual assault made against employees at the Houston Processing Center in 2017. However, many incidents go unreported and even when a report is made, very few allegations against the Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE, are actually investigated by U.S. officials.
Incarcerated and detained people are not only stripped of their liberty, family, and friends, but also are made vulnerable to the plethora of abuses that run rampant within the system. Sexual abuse of detainees is one of the most pressing problems to emerge in recent years.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there have been 200 allegations of abuse made since 2007. The ACLU points out that such abuse goes widely unreported, so the reported number of incidents likely does not come closes to the actual number.
Sexual abuse against incarcerated and detained people is known to occur at centers all across the country. However, the Department of Justice put forth a rule that excludes immigration detention centers from being covered by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Without PREA, detained immigrants are left extremely vulnerable to abuse.
Sources: Buzzfeed News 05/27/20, ACLU 2020