LGBTQ & Immigrant Rights Advocates Urge Immediate Release of Transgender Woman Raped in AZ Immigration Jail
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A coalition of LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations are calling on the Department of Homeland Security today to immediately release Marichuy Leal Gamino, a transgender woman who was sexually assaulted last week at Eloy Detention Center, a for-profit private immigration detention facility in Arizona.
Marichuy, who has been housed with men at Eloy for over a year, was sexually assaulted by her cellmate after she repeatedly attempted to report harassment and threats of abuse to detention center staff. Immediately after the assault, Marichuy reported the abuse but the facility staff–despite clear guidelines in the Prison Rape Elimination Act—instead tried to cover up the attack by pressuring Marichuy to sign a statement claiming the rape was consensual.
Transgender Law Center, Puente, Arcoiris Liberation Team, and the National Center for Transgender Equality, together with other advocates, have been in communication with the Department of Homeland Security to express our distress at Marichuy’s situation and have urged them to investigate and release Marichuy immediately.
“Marichuy’s story illustrates why the mass detention of immigrants must end,” said NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin. “Thousands of LGBT immigrants like Marichuy are needlessly jailed each year, and hundreds of transgender women are routinely placed in men’s jails despite the obvious danger this creates.”
Francisco Luna of the Arcoiris Liberation Team says, “ICE has shown that they are incapable of ensuring Marichuy’s protection from future assaults or retaliation for reporting the awful sexual abuse she has survived. We see no other solution than for ICE to immediately release her, where her community can help her heal.”
“ICE has yet again shown that they are not capable of detaining transgender women with minimum levels of safety and dignity. As a result, they should not be detaining transgender women, period,” says Transgender Law Center’s Soros Justice Fellow Olga Tomchin.
The report of the latest rape in ICE custody comes as advocates anticipate executive action from the White House to reform U.S. deportation policies. LGBTQ and immigrant rights advocates, joined this week by Congressional Equality Caucus, have called for greatly expanded relief from deportation that includes LGBTQ individuals and families and a shift from mass detention to more humane and cost-effective community programs.