Lawyers say ICE guards ‘systematically’ sexually assaulted detainees in El Paso: report

Detainees in an El Paso immigrant detention center have been sexually assaulted and harassed by guards in a “pattern and practice” of abuse, according to a new report by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune.

The report is based on a complaint filed Wednesday by an advocacy group with the local district attorney and federal investigators.

According to the complaint, guards at the facility overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) assaulted at least three people in security camera blind spots at the detention center.

The report was also filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.

One woman, due to be deported next week, was allegedly kissed and groped by several guards. The woman’s attorneys have filed a request to delay her deportation so as not to lose a witness, according to the report.

Two more women have come forward with similar allegations since the complaint was filed Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Global Precision Systems, which operates the facility, told The Hill on Friday that the company is unable to comment on pending legal matters.

ICE representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.

The El Paso allegations are not isolated; according to the ProPublica report, nearly 15,000 allegations of sexual and physical abuse were levied against ICE between 2010 and 2016.

In 2018 alone, ICE reported 374 accusations of sexual assault, including 48 substantiated cases and 29 still under investigation.

The woman who filed the El Paso allegation, a 35-year-old Mexican charged with a drug crime and illegal entry, also said officers as high up as a lieutenant warned abuse victims not to complain about treatment within the center.

A 32-year-old Salvadoran woman who was released from the center due to a medical condition told Linda Corchado, director of legal services for Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, that guards used medical services as a way to lure their victims into camera blind spots, according to the report.

The Salvadoran woman also said that a guard promised her money and clean uniforms and soap in exchange for sexual favors.

“Most women who are still there are scared of saying anything,” she told ProPublica. “You don’t know what they can do.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated on Jan. 5 to reflect that an allegation involving an ICE facility in Houston was withdrawn.




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