The NLG and more than 100 national and local LBGTW, immigrant, and civil rights organizations urged President Obama to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from considering the Adelanto Detention Facility as a center to detain transgender immigrants in a letter on Monday.
The Adelanto Detention Facility in Southern California is geographically remote and poorly suited for transgender immigrants. The facility is in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, which is a four-hour round trip from Los Angeles. Placing transgender immigrants in the facility would effectively prevent any independent oversight by advocates and would severely limit transgender immigrants’ access to attorneys.
On August 13, 2014, LGBTQ advocates toured the Adelanto Detention Facility and spoke to individuals detained there. “We met a woman from Guatemala who had been placed in the men’s housing unit. The government did not even seem to know she was there,” said Aaron C. Morris, Legal Director of Immigration Equality.
Like pregnant women and minor children, LGBTQ individuals are some of the most vulnerable populations in detention. ICE should not place such at-risk groups in isolated facilities. The risk that they will be mistreated is too great. If the government cannot detain LGBTQ immigrants safely, it should not detain them at all. Instead, it should utilize alternative to detention programs, which are a more humane, inexpensive, and effective solution.
“Transgender women who have fled persecution and have come to the US to seek a safe haven should not be retraumatized by being imprisoned in inhumane conditions,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, President of the National Lawyers Guild. “Rather, they should have the right to seek asylum while being afforded respect for their human dignity.”
Read the coalition’s full letter to President Obama here.