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Idea of the Day: Protecting LGBT Immigrants in Immigration Detention

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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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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Elise Shulman (oceans)
202.796.9705 or

Print: Benton Strong (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.481.8142 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Jennifer Molina
202.796.9706 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or


This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here