The appalling treatment of a transgender asylum seeker held in US detention has drawn a lawsuit from the ACLU.
The suit is against the federal government, local government and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and charges that they failed to protect Tanya Guzman-Martinez from sexual violence, assault and other mistreatment.
Guzman-Martinez was being held at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. She was sexually assaulted by a guard who threatened to deport her back to Mexico if she did not comply with his demands. Pinal County court records show that the guard was charged with 'attempted unlawful sexual contact' but was only sentenced to two days, with time served.
After the sexual assault, she was placed back in a male population rather than in a woman's cell and suffered further abuse including another sexual assault.
The accusations, according to the ACLU court papers, include that "on one occasion, a detention officer told other detainees that they could “have her” if they gave him three soup packets."
Alessandra Soler Meetze of the ACLU of Arizona said:
ACLU of Arizona Immigrant Rights Attorney, Victoria Lopez, said:
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Arizona,Amber Cargile, told Fronteras Desk:
Although Guzman-Martinez was released from detention more than a year-and-a-half ago, she still suffers from the emotional pain she endured while at Eloy.
The US has come in for consistent criticism over persistent sexual abuse in immigration detention centers and its refusal to extend the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to those in immigration detention. The ACLU has gathered more than 185 reports of sexual abuse in immigrant detention facilities across America, which they say represents a small proportion of cases.
ACLU of Arizona cooperating attorney Kirstin Story, of the law firm of Lewis and Roca LLP, said:
The ACLU-AZ report "In Their Own Words: Enduring Abuse in Arizona Immigration Detention Centers," details further maltreatment of other LGBT detainees.
ACLU Guzman - Complaint