ACLU Comment on Release of Sexual Abuse Regulations for Immigration Detention Facilities

March 7, 2014 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced that it has finalized its Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards for immigration detention facilities. Today’s standards are needed because though PREA became law over a decade ago, the Department of Justice issued a rule in 2012 that excluded immigration detention facilities from coverage under PREA.

Below is comment from Amy Fettig, ACLU senior staff counsel, on the issuance of today’s rule:

“For the tens of thousands of immigrants held unnecessarily in detention every day, today’s rule, though exceedingly late, is a hugely important development that will help ensure their safety and dignity. DHS must move swiftly to implement these standards in detention facilities nationwide, including in those that are privately run and the county jails that hold most immigrants in custody. We welcome the U.S. government finally coming to terms with the tragic history of sexual abuse in immigration detention and are encouraged that these standards will go a long way to addressing this problem.”

The standards require that all DHS facilities and all contract facilities that hold immigration detainees comply with the PREA regulations. These regulations set forth a zero tolerance policy for any sexual abuse of immigration detainees; establish mandatory training for all staff; and require that every facility undergo at least one outside audit for PREA compliance every three years. Importantly, the DHS PREA regulations establish oversight and limitations on the use of isolation on vulnerable detainees and alleged victims of sexual abuse; prohibit cross-gender searches of women; and, of particular importance to transgender and intersex detainees, they prevent examination solely for the purpose of determining genital characteristics.

To view the standards, click below:

For more information on sexual assault in immigration detention visit:

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