*UPDATE: We now know that many of the sexual assaults have not been reported. The inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security just released a report about just how little oversight third party operators of detention facilities have.
Immigrant women being held in ICE detention facilities are being sexually abused by ICE staff.
In one federal lawsuit, a woman identified as E.D. says she was forced to perform sex acts in front of other staff members while staying at Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania with her 3-year-old child. Though he has plead guilty to sexual abuse to the state of Pennsylvania, defendant Daniel Sharkey denies guilt to federal charges, insisting the encounter was consensual.
Sharkey and ICE are both fighting back, claiming that because the Berks Family Residential Center is not technically a prison, a federal law prohibiting any form of sexual interaction between staff and inmates does not apply here.
E.D.'s story is not unique. In just four years, over 1,300 women have made formal allegations of sexual abuse by staff and agents while being held by ICE. Experts, however, say this number is far lower than the likely reality.
These are people seeing safety and a better life for themselves and their families. These are vulnerable women being sexually abused at the hands of people who are supposed to help them.
Call on the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a formal, nationwide investigation into sexual abuse being committed by ICE agents and staff workers – no one, regardless of documentation status, deserves to be treated this way!