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Petitioning Secretary Napolitan

Secretary Napolitano: Protect LGBTI detainees from sexual abuse!

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We are calling on Secretary Napolitano to follow the lead of the Department of Justice by issuing clear, strong standards that protect LGBTI immigration detainees from sexual abuse.

The standards that Secretary Napolitano is currently reviewing are good, but they don't go far enough.

They allow some facilities to delay adoption of these standards indefinitely. And they don't require comprehensive training for immigration officials on the treatment of trans detainees.

Send Secretary Napolitano a short letter explaining why she must address these flaws before she makes the standards permanent.

Sexual abuse is preventable only if Secretary Napolitano and her agency work with advocacy groups like ours to strengthen their standards.

Special thanks to National Center for Transgender Equality and Just Detention for building a coalition to speak out on this important issue.

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Letter to
Secretary Napolitan
I am writing to applaud your draft regulations for ending sexual abuse in Department of Homeland Security confinement facilities, and to urge you to resist any calls to weaken them. In testimony before Congress, you expressed a commitment to ensuring the safety and dignity of immigration detainees. The draft standards released by your Department, if they are implemented in a timely manner, could help achieve that goal.

Though strong, the draft standards have several flaws that must be addressed. As drafted, they allow many contract facilities to delay implementation for decades or indefinitely. The Department must require these facilities, where most immigration detainees are held, to adopt the standards within a specified time period that is feasible and ensures detainees are kept safe. Also, provisions should be added to protect detainees from retaliatory deportation, increase access to existing types of legal status for survivors of abuse, and prevent sexual abuse during detainee transportation.

Additionally, the final standards must include critical protections for LGBTI detainees. All facility staff must receive comprehensive training that includes training on working with LGBTI people. LGBTI detainees should not be involuntarily placed into "gay units." And transgender and intersex detainees should be able to be housed and searched based on their gender identity.

Sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities is preventable. I urge you to stand firm against any pressure to weaken the draft standards and to make the changes described above.

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