HRC Sends Expanded FOIA Request to ICE & CBP for Records of Treatment of Trans Detainees

HRC sent expanded Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.S.  Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for the release of any and all records, including but not limited to letters, memos, emails, text messages, phone records, health reports, and other documents regarding any transgender detainees in ICE custody between January 21, 2017 and the present, as well as policies and procedures that guide treatment of transgender people in ICE custody.  

This is a follow-up to an earlier FOIA request by HRC in July for all records related to the death of Roxana Hernández, a transgender woman, while in the custody of ICE and CBP.

Hernández reached the United States border on May 9, 2018, seeking asylum after fleeing Honduras due to the violence and discrimination she experienced based on her gender identity. She was held for five days by CBP before being processed into the United States and put into ICE custody in San Diego. She was transferred again to another facility three days later on May 16 before her admission to a nearby hospital on May 17. She passed away on May 25. On May 31, HRC called on ICE to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Hernandez’s death.

“The new information released regarding Roxana Hernández’s death is both tragic and deeply disturbing,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “According to both eyewitness accounts and the forensic examiner, Hernández was denied medical treatment for several days, all while suffering severe symptoms that evidently contributed to her worsening condition. Moreover, we are horrified to learn that Hernández’s body showed signs of physical abuse, including beating or kicking across her torso and being tightly handcuffed for an extensive length of time. Despite these shocking revelations, ICE officials have yet to comment on the specifics of the autopsy and refuse to provide further details regarding her death and detainment. HRC joins advocates, including efforts led by the Transgender Law Center, in calling for the full release in all records related to this tragedy to ensure those responsible for these cruel and fatal acts are brought to justice.”

A report released in 2016 by Human Rights Watch detailed the experiences of 28 transgender women who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border between 2011 and 2015, more than of whom were held in men’s facilities at some point in their detention. Others reported being held in solitary confinement, allegedly for their own protection, while many reported experiencing sexual assault and other forms of violence while in detention.

According to information provided by the Department in response to a request by Rep. Kathleen Rice, LGBTQ immigrants are detained twice as long as other immigrants and also face lengthy stays in solitary confinement despite ICE regulations that stipulate its use as a last resort. ICE also reported to Representative Rice that LGBTQ people accounted for only .14 percent of the people detained by ICE in 2017, but made up 12 percent of reported sexual assault and abuse cases.

The Human Rights Campaign stands with coalition partners in demanding the humane treatment of all undocumented immigrants and will not rest while LGBTQ migrants are subjected to horrific treatment based on their sexuality and gender identity.

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Bermuda’s Government Must Recognize That Marriage Equality is Settled, Advocates Say

Bermuda’s LGBTQ community won a crucial victory for marriage equality in November, when the island’s highest court dismissed the government’s latest appeal to strike down same-sex marriage.

Despite the high court ruling, the government of Bermuda is weighing whether to appeal this ruling to the Privy Council in the U.K. — a desperate attempt to block the path to equality for Bermuda. The deadline for the appeal is December 14.

HRC asked OUTBermuda’s directors, Chen Foley and Zakiya Johnson Lord, what this means for the LGBTQ community.

Is the court’s November 23 decision the final word for LGBTQ Bermudians, and is marriage equality the law of the land?

We hope so. However, the government again is leaving Bermuda and the world in suspense until December 14. We strenuously believe that this is a both a waste of time and an absurd taxpayer expense. The Bermuda courts consistently embrace justice and marriage equality.

If this decision is appealed, what are your chances in the Privy Council?

While we can’t predict the outcome, our attorneys believe this is likely to be our most favorable venue, with a remarkable potential for impacting the work of marriage equality advocates throughout Commonwealth nations, including the Caribbean. If that occurs, the ripples of equality might be quite powerful beyond the borders of Bermuda.

To be clear, can Bermudian same-sex couples marry today?

Yes. The Supreme Court ruled back in 2017 that Bermudians can secure marriage licenses and have their marriages recognized. We are still fighting to make that basic right permanent and lasting for all. Furthermore, two subsequent court decisions have upheld that ruling.

What message do you wish to send to your global allies and advocates?

First, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for standing by Bermudian’s LGBTQ community. We are indebted for the financial, emotional and spiritual support throughout this costly and demanding court process.  We are so close now!

All Bermudians look forward to the day that we reconcile our differences, we redeem our blessings and we reward each other with full equality under the law and within our own loving marriages.

“Another Appeal is Not In Bermuda’s Best Interests,” says #OUTBermuda and all fair-minded Bermudians. Read on: https://t.co/jaKvPZ52d5 pic.twitter.com/M9GuYKOqJH

— OUTBermuda (@OUTBermuda) December 4, 2018

For more information about the ongoing work to support LGBTQ equality in Bermuda, check out  www.OUTBermuda.org and share support on social media. For more about HRC’s work to support LGBTQ equality worldwide, go to hrc.org/Global.

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