Transgender Law Center is concerned by reports that Danni Askini, a transgender woman, U.S. citizen, and prominent community advocate from Washington State, has been denied a passport renewal by the U.S. State Department. Danni is currently in Sweden and if forced to return to the United States, Danni worries that the U.S. would place her in immigration detention if she attempted to return.

TLC has long called on the U.S. to end its abusive practice of placing transgender women in immigration detention centers. United States immigration detention centers have repeatedly shown they are incapable of holding transgender women safely, instead subjecting them to intense abuse, assault, and human rights violations that have been fatal in some cases. Numerous studies demonstrate that LGBT people in detention are at heightened risk of verbal and physical abuse, harassment, sexual violence, and inadequate access to necessary medical care.[1] Although LGBT people make up less than one percent of people in immigration detention each year, they account for 12 percent of reported victims of sexual abuse and assault in ICE detention.[2] Transgender people specifically, are at an increased risk of sexual abuse in detention facilities.[3] Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses solitary confinement as a method to “protect” LGBT people in detention from abuse, however, this is inappropriate and causes further harm. Prolonged solitary confinement is demonstrated to cause irreparable psychological harm and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has reported on ICE’s use of solitary confinement for LGBT immigrants in detention as a violation of U.S. treaty obligations.[4]

[1] Sharita Gruberg, Center for American Progress, Dignity Denied: LGBT Immigrants in U.S. Immigration Detention (2013), https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2013/11/25/79987/dignity-denied-lgbt-immigrants-in-u-s-immigration-detention/; Shana Tabak, Rachel Levitan, LGBTI Migrants in Immigration Detention: a Global Perspective, Harv. J.L. & Gender 1 (2014), http://harvardjlg.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/2014.1.pdf; Lauren Zitsch, “Where the American Dream Becomes a Nightmare: LGBT Detainees in Immigration Detention Facilities, 22 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 105 (2015-2016).

[2] Letter from Congresswoman Kathleen Rice to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (May 30, 2018).

[3] National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/226680.pdf (2009).

[4] U.N. General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, addendum observations on communications transmitted to Governments and replies received, ¶178 U.N. Doc. A/HRC/22/53/Add.4 (March 12, 2013).