GAO to Investigate Sexual Abuse at Immigration Detention Centers

February 3, 2012
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The Government Accountability Office [GAO] recently announced it will look into the problem of sexual abuse at immigration detention centers across the United States. This comes as the Obama administration is debating whether to include these facilities in new regulations covered under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA.

Last month, 30 members of Congress asked the GAO to investigate the issue, citing our film Lost in Detention. The group specifically requested that the review:

… include facilities run by the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), private facilities under contract with ICE to hold immigration detainees, and those public facilities (like county jails) also under contract with ICE. Additionally, please identify what steps DHS is taking to rectify the problem and suggest any actions it needs to consider in order to ensure that sexual abuse does not continue to plague the immigration detention system.

Lost in Detention examined complaints of sexual abuse at the Willacy Detention Center in Raymondville, Texas, and our reporting, in conjunction with documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, found that illegal immigrants held in immigration detention facilities across the U.S. filed more than 170 allegations of sexual abuse over the last four years.

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