As Congress debates immigration reform, a common refrain from congressional Republicans is the call for increased border security and increased resources for enforcement of immigration laws. While it is in the interest of national sovereignty and security to track those who come into and leave the United States, we cannot permit enforcement of immigration laws to trample immigrants’ basic human rights. We must ensure that immigration enforcement is conducted in a humane manner that respects human dignity. Unfortunately, the current immigration enforcement system falls short of this goal, particularly in regard to the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, immigrants.
While the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, does not keep data on the sexual orientation or gender identity of people in its custody, reports of treatment of LGBT detainees obtained through Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests and through complaints filed by immigrant rights groups reveal that much like in the general prison population—where LGBT inmates are 15 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general population—LGBT immigrants in immigration detention facilities face an increased risk of abuse in detention.
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