Houston Immigration Facility Accused of Harassing Gays

A civil rights group has filed a complaint alleging harassment and ill treatment of gay and transgendered people in federal immigration facilities across the nation, including one in Houston.

The National Immigration Justice Center wrote to the Department of Homeland Security that GLBT immigrants have been mistreated in the jail-like holding facilities across the nation.

"These complaints document stories of abuse, humiliation, and neglect, often in isolated detention facilities where people have little access to the outside world," said Mary Meg McCarthy, NIJC's executive director. "Given DHS's inability to protect vulnerable individuals in its custody from abuse, the Obama administration must take concrete steps to reduce its expansive detention program and to use alternatives to detention."

The Houston Processing Center is one of the facilities named.

The complaint says an HIV-positive immigrant it calls simply Steve was constantly ridiculed by guards for his sexuality and, at one point, the guards refused a doctor's request to remove shackles from his wrists and ankles during an examination.

"They had to take blood from my hand, and even though I cried from the pain, they didn't care," Steve is quoted as saying in the complaint.

The complaint, which can be found at a link here, also includes a lengthy description of various guards harassing Steve and superiors ignoring his complaints.

"The administration should take immediate steps to apply the protections of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which would provide protections and remedies for individuals who are victims of sexual assault, to all immigration detention facilities," the groups says.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly