Sexual Abuse of US Refugee Detainees Pervasive


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released government documents containing 185 allegations of sexual abuse against female immigration detainees in federal detention centers since 2007.

Many of the women are refugees fleeing persecution including torture and rape.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) explicitly excludes immigration detention facilities from coverage under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).

ACLU has provided detailed narratives by three women describing sexual assaults by guards whilst they were being transported in prison vans.

Almost all US immigration detainees, including asylum seekers and refugees, are not detained in specialist facilities but in normal state prisons.

The ACLU says the 185 assaults happened all around the country, with more allegations against facilities in Texas than in any other state, but they do not represent the full scope of the problem because sexual assault is “notoriously underreported.”

Mark Whitburn, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement:

“Immigrants in detention are uniquely vulnerable to abuse – and those holding them in custody know it. Many do not speak English … and may not be aware of their rights, or they may be afraid to exercise them.”

The ACLU has launched a class-action suit in Texas on behalf of three women who are seeking asylum in the US after fleeing sexual assault in their home countries.

Lisa Graybill, legal director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement:

“The fact that these women sought sanctuary in the United States – only to find abuse at the hands of officials they thought would protect them – is wholly inconsistent with America’s self-proclaimed reputation as a beacon of human rights.”

The Texas suit names three officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a guard accused of assaulting the women and Corrections Corp. of America, the country’s largest private prisons contractor.

Donald Dunn, the guard in Texas named in the lawsuit, has pleaded guilty in state court to three counts of official repression and two counts of unlawful restraint related to assaults against five women, according to the ACLU. Dunn also faces four federal counts of criminal violations of civil rights, the ACLU said.


Related Stories:

US Border Agents Have ‘Culture of Cruelty’

An Alternative to Alabama’s Direction on Immigration

Jail is No Place for US Immigration Detainees


Picture credit Richard Vallejo


Lyssa C.
Lyssa C5 years ago


Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

I can't be bothered to tell the difference. As with Republicans, I'm told they are not "all that way". Doesn't matter, I'm shining a light on the ones who "are that way". And those are such disgusting, narrow minded, arrogant, fanatics and are backing the rich bankers and corporate thieves who took down America, that anybody who calls himself a Republican is giving himself a bad name. As the Bible says, "when you lie down with whores....." It's the same with Muslims, they say they're not "all that way". But how am I gonna know?? I have to watch my back, I don't care what they say.

William Y.
William Y5 years ago

@ Jane B. by your way of thinking, at least from your post, you feel that all non-Catholic Christians are Fundies, which they are not. Fundies are the loudest and most often heard and most idiotic, but not the only ones.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

Because I'm making a distinction between Christian fundamentalists and Catholics who have the celebacy rule. They are both cults but the Catholics have a Pope who gay bashes in every speech he makes. The Christian fundamentalists just have Presidential candidates who do that.

William Y.
William Y5 years ago

@ Jane B. Why do you keep saying Christians & Catholics? Catholics are Christians.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

Ameer, you have no sense of humor. Weiners are not for "getting a job done", they are for fun. And it's usually more fun for the guys, isn't it? Or there wouldn't be so much rape? I don't see women going around and raping. In fact, is it possible for a woman to rape a man? The guy has to be hard, doesn't he? And guys are bigger so they can get away? I just read on another site that gay bashing is an integral part of the Muslim religion and it's a requirement that Muslims hate gays. Is that true? The Christians and Catholics hate gays too so I'm not being selective. I think all religions are the source of hate and violence, I've just looked around and noticed it. I personally think people should lighten up and whore around more and have fun and party.

Lori E.
Lori E5 years ago

Wow, I'm ashamed and embarrassed that this has happened here. Those people are suppose to help people, not hurt them.

Ameer T.
Ameer T5 years ago

Jane B:

Weiners are tools because tools are means to some ends for getting a job done. I am sure you know what that is.

i dont know where one can see Harems. i haven't seen one myself.

Whoever got 10 lashes for driving? driving is not permited in Saudi Arabia ONLY. but it is not punishable with lashes so i can't concur. Sharif Al Minal the driving revolutionist in Sadia got off without getting lashed too.

If you feel that people's weiners should be wacked as a form of punishments you are entitled to your opinon. But i understand that even that may be a turn on for some people. i think BDSM is a way of sex for some people and an established fetish. But personally i dont think it would make a difference and i dont think the question is entirely suggestive of a solution.

What could be done to avert rape? well that question requires a more in depth answer that i could not answer here in the space given. But it would have to involve sociology as well criminololgy to answer it.

Yes there are whore houses in Pakistan and usually these are restricted to the red light districts. But you have to have a licence to be a whore there. i dont know if people have to sneak to go there or not. i am sure some of the married ones would probably have to for obvious reasons. I also can't say what others think of the ones who visit brothels? I am certain the feelings are mixed, the same as anywhere else.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

Ameer, hahaha tools for what? I think they are fun playthings. Where can I go to see some harems? If you don't have any in Pakistan then I don't want to visit. I heard there was a woman who got 10 lashes for driving. I think the old sand dude dressed up in a nightgown who ordered that should have his weiner wacked with a wooden spoon like the Catholic nuns used to do. Since there is so much rape in spite of the religious and common laws, what do you think should be done about it? The jails are getting too filled up, they have been privatized and now they are starving the prisoners. Should there be more whore houses?
I prefer the term whore rather than brothel because the Christian Bible has 50 or so names for women who have sex but not one name for the guys who raped them. Rape can't happen without some guy getting hard so it sounds like the rapists are the real whores. ;)
Do they have any whore houses in Pakistan? Or would a guy have to worry about what somebody would say or think if they went to one? Do they have to sneak around to do it?
I absolutely hate sneaking around. I like to parade around and dress sexy and openly have
fun. ;)

Ameer T.
Ameer T5 years ago

Jane B:

Weiners may be the best parts on men. But all that i advocate is that weiners should be used as tools and not as weapons.