Center for American Progress

RELEASE: In Question of Detention or Release, Immigration Officials Overwhelmingly Discriminate Against LGBT Immigrants
Press Release

RELEASE: In Question of Detention or Release, Immigration Officials Overwhelmingly Discriminate Against LGBT Immigrants

Washington, D.C. — An analysis conducted by the Center for American Progress and published today has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, immigrants are consistently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, even when ICE’s own system recommends release.

According to data obtained by CAP through a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request, ICE chose to detain LGBT individuals in two-thirds of instances in which its own Risk Classification Assessment, or RCA, tool explicitly recommended release. Seventy percent of all LGBT persons processed through ICE’s RCA system were given an option or recommendation of release, yet 68 percent of them were instead detained and more than half were detained without bond.

“Despite commendable improvements to the immigration detention system in recent years, the data we collected from ICE’s own records show that its detention decisions when considering LGBT immigrants are rife with discrimination,” said Sharita Gruberg, CAP Senior Policy Analyst and author of the column that analyzes the data. “Studies have shown that nonheterosexual persons in prisons or jails are up to 10 times more likely to face sexual assault than heterosexual detainees, and nearly 40 percent of transgender detainees were sexually assaulted. In two out of the three cases in 2014 with an explicit release recommendation, ICE officials overruled ICE’s own automated Risk Classification Assessment system and instead chose to keep LGBT persons detained, often without bond and at greater personal risk than members of other communities.”

According to the column, a study by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General found that ICE officials overrode explicit RCA recommendations only 7.6 percent of the time for the general population, but the rate for LGBT immigrants was nearly 20 percent. In only 16 percent of overall cases, the RCA tool gave discretion to ICE officials on whether to detain. That number is contrasted with the 64 percent in LGBT cases.

The Center for American Progress submitted a FOIA request to ICE on October 8, 2014, requesting the Risk Classification Assessments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants for fiscal year 2014, which ran from October 2013 through October 2014, and the actual custody determinations made by ICE for members of this population. ICE provided the requested documents on March 13, 2015.

Click here to read the paper.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.