THREAD: As an asylee and former detainee at a private prison contracted by ICE, this story is not shocking to me. In my time in ICE detention, I witnessed multiple instances of sexual harassment and heard stories of abuse and assault from fellow detainees.
apnews.com/a63fdcec347b41…
First you need to know the size of the population of immigrations - both documented and undocumented - that pass through detention facilities run by the DOJ or their contractors. It's in hundreds of thousands. Per CAP, that number was 400,000 in 2015 alone americanprogress.org/issues/immigra…
Despite the fact that people detained for immigration violations are "civil" detainees, and not criminal ones, the treatment you receive in these detention facilities is just like any prison. They come complete with lock up times, yard times and even punitive solitary confinement
This isn't just at the facilities run by DOJ. It's the norm everywhere - INCLUDING the private detention facilities run by companies like CCA (Corrections Corporation of America). About 18% of immigrants pass through the private detention facilities. But they, too, are prisons.
When I say they are prisons, it's because really are. Civil offenders are housed with violent offenders. i.e. green card holders who are subject to removal for committing felonies - sometimes violent - are housed with asylees. They are not supposed to, but they do.
In the facilities I was at, several of the people had committed crimes that they'd served from a couple of years to decades for. One of the men in my cell - there were about 9 of us there - had just been paroled after a life in prison sentence for murder.
Another guy I befriended was in removal proceedings because he had committed armed robbery. Met another guy in his early 30s who'd shot someone in the head when hey were just 14-15. That's just the people that I spoke to and know of.
Again, they are not *supposed* to. People with no criminal record are supposed to be kept separate from those with criminal records. But space constraints - and greed (I'll explain that) - means that at the end of the day, everyone is crammed in together.
Greed is a factor because the more detainees there are, the more private prison corporations make money. So they influence local governments and sheriffs to even detain everyone so the government will pay them for housing them instead of using ankle monitors for non-criminals.
I for instance was told by ICE before I was detained that I'd get bond at their local office in the city I was in (Sacramento) cuz I had no criminal record. Instead, they cuffed me and shackled me and put me on a plane to Arizona and into a private prison. Was bonded in 2 months.
Taxpayers had to pay CCA for housing me for two months when I could have just as easily been sitting at home, waiting for my asylum case to proceed through the course. This explanation is necessary because you need to understand who is locked up in these facilities.
On the one hand, you have undocumented immigrants, the overwhelming majority with not even a traffic violation, who've never in there lives been to a prison, or even been arrested. They are locked up essentially in prison with people who've spent years to decades in prison.
The former know nothing about what happens on the inside. The latter have lived through it for years. To make matters worse, oversight is minimal, so in case of disputes between detainees, no one knows who to talk to or complain to. That is *if* you can.
Many of the young men and women, and boys and girls who claim asylum at the border don't speak English. So even if they are hurt by the prisoners - or any of the staff members - *how* are they going to communicate it?
Even if they *could* communicate it, many of the asylum-seekers and undocumented immigrants are completely uninformed in the first days of their detention as to where they are. Are they federal prison? County prison? Private prison? Is this punitive? Is it for profit detention?
You also need to understand that many of the asylum seekers and undoc immigrants come from countries where the police are just as bad as the criminals... (kinda like cops are in America to Black people). They feel like talking to staff at detention facilities carries a huge risk.
Two of the people I was locked up with were really young Chinese kids who'd arrived a month or so before me. They were both in their late teens, completely unaware of where exactly they had landed and extremely vulnerable. Within the first 24, I realized how bad it was.
One of the boys was constantly sexually harassed by another deainee who was much bigger and stronger who was in his 40s. It was *bad*. To the point that even after our cell doors had been closed, he would sing from his cell 200 feet away to the young boy.
There was even forced physical contact... Like unwanted hugs. The boy was forced to endure all of this even though he was extremely uncomfortable. I was mortified. I wanted to tell the guards... but what if they did nothing? And just talked to the guy and then let him back in...?
Of course you're gonna ask, "Well, why didn't you talk to the boy?" I couldn't. He only spoke Cantonese and a few broken English words. Over next few weeks, it got progressively worse to the point where he wouldn't leave our cell, imo to avoid forced physical contact.
The staff did nothing. They could hear him scream obscenities late at night intended for the young man in our cell. The most they would do is that after a while, they'd ask everyone to quiet down. That's all. It only ended when the boys' relatives finally got them bonded out.
Another young Guatemalan boy whose name I never learned but everyone called him Gordo because he was chubby was also a frequent target of harassment and unwanted touching. I actually witnessed him a couple of times pushing people away. Once even threatening to fight someone.
I was only 24 and quickly learned to protect myself because I immediately learned the price of not doing so. Within the first 24 hours of being in ICE detention, I was sexually harassed by at least two other detainees. It was horrifying and, yet, expected af.
When we first arrived at the ICE facility in Arizona, we were led into a giant processing room. Imagine if you will a basketball court sized room, with about 200 people, crammed together to the point where there wasn't space you could fully lay down.
On the one end, there was a table and a chair with an ICE officer in uniform. From time to time, another ICE officer would walk in with some papers and one of us would be led out to be processed. There were 4(?) really dirty, stinky, bathrooms with no doors on that side.
Once, I walked in and as I was making my way to one, a guy walks out with his dick hanging out, pointing at it and making gestures at me asking me for sex. I screamed an obscenity and walked out.
The second time, someone attempted to walk into the stall I was already in again... with his dick hanging out. He could see me in there. No mistake. I pushed him so hard, he hit the wall on the other side about 10 feet away. I didn't want to start a fight. It was already bad.
I spent somewhere between 36-48 hours in that "basketball" room. And the entire time, I couldn't sleep. Neither could I use the bathrooms in peace. Now, bear in mind, I'm not a HUGE guy, but I'm not tiny. And the guys who came at me were my size-ish. (5'9", average build).
There were people there younger than me. And smaller, scrawnier and more scared. They were scared shitless. Constantly scanning every face among us. I'm too afraid to wonder what happened there and what happens still in that "basketball" court. I just don't want to go back. Ever.
Then there was the young Mexican immigrant who told me someone attempted to assault him in his cell. This happened about a month or so before I arrived at the private prison - where I was eventually led to after the basketball court and a couple of other facilities.
Again, this is not a scrawny kid. He was 5'8", but pretty solidly-built 25 yo - the sole supporter of a widowed mother and a younger sister. He'd been there a few weeks when one night, he woke up to someone jumping on top of him and pushing his hands down his pants.
This was a guy who had been in his cell for a week or so and was a known bully. The only way he could get out of this was to start a fight, pretend it wasn't because he was sexually assaulted so that both would be sent to solitary confinement.
He told me this after knowing me for a while, when we spent hours each day talking about, and me gaining his trust. He didn't want anyone else knowing that someone had tried to rape him, but he had to tell someone. Again, he couldn't tell the staff. "What can I prove?" he said.
Again, this shit happened to adults. MALE adults. STRAIGHT MALE ADULTS. CIS STRAIGHT MALE ADULTS. Even then, the vulnerability is real af. I'm still psychologically affected by what happened and what I had to witness. It stays with me. And with others who've been through it.
So news that young children have been abused after being detained by ICE? Not shocking at all. If adults can't get through the system without being harassed, molested and assaulted, I fully expect children to be raped - possibly repeatedly - when they're in there.
And these kids really do depend on us to help them because we know the government is doing absolutely nothing until the courts push them to. Here's a story from two weeks ago about children in these detention facilities alleging abuse and the gov response. time.com/5365882/treatm…
Here's what happened:

1. Several immigrant children alleged abuse in immigration detention facilities in Virginia.

2. Gov does investigation and says there was no abuse.

3. Said investigation interviewed NONE of the children who said they were abused. WHY? Read for yourself:
I hope it clarifies the situation a little bit. Immigrant children held across the country at detention facilities are in grave risk of sexual abuse. Every passing day we don't do something, we are allowing the system to victimize more and more of them.
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