December 19, 2017

Grijalva, Lawmakers Urge Investigation of Sex Assault Claims at Detention Centers

About 2 percent of assault allegations investigated over 2-year period, data show.

ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement hero (PHOTO: Courtesy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

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Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva wants to know if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is following its own policy on sexual assault and abuse.

Grijalva and about 70 other members of Congress have signed a letter calling on top officials in the U.S. Department Homeland Security to act.

The letter cites data compiled by the Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, which obtained the data through the Freedom of Information Act. The data show federal authorities investigated about 2 percent of sexual abuse and assault allegations made by people in detention centers between May 2014 and July 2016.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual assault and abuse in place. The policy also requires periodic compliance audits and mandatory staff training.

Grijalva and others want special committees to investigate if the policy has been violated, and if there is a pattern of sexual assault and abuse in detention centers. Their letter calls on officials to regularly post information online about complaints of sexual assault and abuse. It also calls on ICE to withdraw a request to destroy records related to sexual assault, or instead post them online first.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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