For Immediate Release
August 25, 2015
Contact: Olga Tomchin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Advocates Condemn Plan to Detain Transgender Women at Adelanto
“[the] way to keep LGBTQ immigrants safe is not to detain them in the first place”
Today, over 100 national and local LGBTQ, immigrant, and civil rights organizations urged President Obama in a letter to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from detaining transgender women at the isolated Adelanto Detention Facility in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. Adelanto is run by GEO Group, a private company with a record of abusing detained people, including transgender women and individuals with disabilities.
Attorneys and formerly detained individuals have reported abuse that includes solitary confinement, denial of medical care, and pervasive sexual harassment of transgender women at GEO Group facilities, including the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Texas and the LaSalle Detention Facility in Louisiana. The Adelanto Detention Facility itself has a history of human rights abuses, including “egregious errors” in medical .
A coalition including the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) has been highlighting abuses against people with disabilities and asylum seekers at Adelanto. GEO Group has consistently denied or delayed necessary mental health for people detained at Adelanto and shackled individuals during their psychiatric appointments.
In one Adelante case, a man named Gerardo Corrales developed a life-threatening infection because GEO forced him to reuse dirty catheters.
In another case, Barbra Perez, a trans woman detained by GEO, was tortured in solitary confinement and denied necessary medical care, while ICE tried to use the mis to coerce her to accept deportation rather than fight her immigration case. The facility’s documented failure to prevent or address sexual assault is especially alarming given that trans women are the survivors of 20% of substantiated sexual assault complaints in immigration detention.
“It’s clear that GEO Group cannot be trusted to care for transgender women or house them safely,” says Olga Tomchin, NDLON’s Deportation Defense Coordinator and Staff Attorney. “Instead, as in the outreageous case of Brenda Perez, we see ICE exploiting this fear and suffering as they try to coerce individuals to accept deportation.”
Adelanto is located in the Mojave desert, an extremely isolated area and a long distance from legal services and other social support systems, so its geographical location would further prevent independent oversight by advocates and severely limit transgender immigrants’ access to attorneys. The letter makes clear that the only “way to keep LGBTQ immigrants safe is not to detain them in the first place.”
“The President should shut down Adelanto instead of detaining trans women there,” says Tomchin.