Claims of Sexual Assault at El Paso Detention Centers
A local attorney is urging the local district attorney and federal prosecutors to conduct a criminal investigation after a complaint was filed by a Texas advocacy group. The complaint says guards in El Paso at the immigration detention center showed a "pattern and practice" of abuse by sexually assaulting and harassing inmates.
The guards are being blamed of systematically assaulting at least three people in a facility that is overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They do so generally in areas that are not visible to security cameras. It's also being claimed that the guards told the victims no one would believe them because there was no footage of the event, and the harassment involved high-ranking officials, even a lieutenant.
The complaint was filed with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and it was shared with prosecutors. According to the complaint, several guards "forcibly" kissed and touched one woman inappropriately. The investigators could lose the woman as a key witness as she is scheduled for deportation next week.
The woman faces danger back in Mexico, but to her, that sounds better than what she is being put through at the detention center. She says she would rather return to Mexico, adding in a telephone interview:
“It’s going to get worse now. I can’t handle this anymore.”
Two more women have come forward with abuse allegations, since the original complaint was filed.
A spokesperson for ICE wrote that ICE has:
zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse or assault against individuals in the agency’s custody and takes very seriously all allegations of employee misconduct. When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.