A woman held at an immigration detention center in Washington state said she was raped by a medical worker and a private facility contractor as she sought help in the center’s medical unit. Another woman said officers cuffed and maced her following an argument with a fellow detainee at an immigration detention center in Florida. Then, as she lay on the ground, an officer sat on her “like a person would sit on a horse,” his “erect penis on her butt.” Officers then filmed her as she showered to wash off the mace, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.
ELSEWHERE IN FLORIDA, a man said a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent threatened him with deportation after he refused to engage in oral sex — and that the officer told him he would be deported to Haiti, even though the man is from the Bahamas. In Texas, a Border Patrol agent driving detainees between detention centers pulled over and let a woman get out after she performed oral sex on him, according to another complaint.
Many other women and men held in immigration detention across the country reported routine searches that turned into groping and fondling. Many said they were propositioned, subjected to suggestive stares and sexual innuendo, and threatened with retaliation if they spoke up. Many said officers shrugged when they reported abuse by fellow detainees.
These allegations are just a sample of hundreds of complaints of sexual and physical abuse in immigration detention obtained by The Intercept in response to a public records request with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, which is tasked with independently reviewing the department’s various agencies, including ICE and Border Patrol.
The reports obtained by The Intercept include 1,224 complaints filed between 2010 and September 2017, primarily about incidents that took place in ICE custody. But in earlier responses, officials with the DHS Office of Inspector General indicated that the office received some 33,000 complaints between 2010 and 2016 alleging a wide range of abuses in immigration detention. The OIG provided records documenting investigations for just 2 percent of the complaints it shared with The Intercept.