Report: ICE Guards Systematically Sexually Assaulted Detainees In El Paso

Screengrab / Democracy Now / YouTube

JakeThomas

A complaint filed in August alleges a "pattern and practice" of abuse by guards at an El Paso detention center.

ProPublica reported in August that guards in an El Paso immigrant detention center allegedly sexually assaulted and harassed inmates in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a complaint filed by a Texas advocacy group.

  • The complaint alleges that guards attacked victims in camera “blind spots” and said “no one would believe them.” The harassment involved officers as high-ranking as lieutenant, ProPublica reported.

According to the complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and shared with prosecutors, several guards ‘forcibly’ kissed and touched the intimate parts of at least one woman.

  • The woman was deported this week, which means investigators have lost a key witness.
  • After the complaint was filed, two more women came forward with abuse allegations. “At least one other woman was deported after a guard assaulted her, detainees told lawyers," the publication reported.
  • One woman, from El Salvador, said a guard offered her clean uniforms and soap if she would “fool around” with him. He allegedly also said he would pay her “a lot of money” to have sex in camera blind spots.
  • An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson said the agency has “zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse or assault against individuals in the agency’s custody and takes very seriously all allegations of employee misconduct. When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.”

A spokesperson for Global Precision Systems, a subsidiary of Bering Straits Native Corporation, which contracts with ICE to run the El Paso facility, wrote in an email that she could not comment on pending legal matters.

  • ProPublica noted that approx. 14,700 complaints alleging sexual and physical abuse were filed against ICE from 2010 to 2016, according to federal data. Only a fraction were investigated by the Office of Inspector General.

In 2018, the most updated statistics available online, ICE reported 374 formal accusations of sexual assault, of which 48 were substantiated by the agency and 29 remained pending an investigation as of that year.

Read the full report.

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