From two senior staff attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union:

ICE Detention Center Says It’s Not Responsible for Staff's Sexual Abuse of Detainees

Although the employee pled guilty to criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law, the defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations.

Their argument rests in part on their assessment that the sexual abuse was “consensual” and that they should be held to a different standard because the Berks Family Residential Center is an immigration detention facility rather than a jail or prison.   

The migrant from Honduras was a 19-year old at the time of the assault, and had a three-year old child.  According to the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, the girl was coerced into sexual acts by an employee,  threatened with deportation, and mocked by the defendants. 

It was not “consensual”. There is no such thing as “consensual” sexual abuse or “consensual rape”—even though that is a term used by GOP legislators.

Every prison in the  United States, both federal and state, forbid sexual contact with prisoners because of the obvious power imbalance. Prisoners can’t say “No”.  Migrants detained at places like the Berks Family Residential Center, however, aren’t labeled prisoners, but “detainees”, and that makes a big difference. This is something the defendants took full advantage of. 

Cases like this aren’t an anomaly.  The surge of hiring ICE agents in 2017 was at such an aggressive pace that they didn’t get the best people, and detainees are suffering for it.  Half of the complaints of sexual abuse from these detention centers involve the ICE agents who are supposed to be protecting them:

A woman held at an immigration detention center in Washington state said she was raped by a medical worker and a private facility contractor as she sought help in the center’s medical unit.

Another woman said officers cuffed and maced her following an argument with a fellow detainee at an immigration detention center in Florida….Officers then filmed her as she showered to wash off the mace…

The article has many, many more stories like that which are too disturbing to post here, and those are just the ones brave enough to come forward. Most of these crimes are not reported, since they have to interact with their abusers every day and can’t leave.


Trump and his supporters are on a mission to make immigrants suffer, even teens and children, to send a message to others not to come here. Trump even admitted that his cruelty serves as a deterrent to travel here.

The migrant crisis is a completely manufactured one. Before Trump, everyone declaring asylum to seek protection were entitled to bond hearings. Trump’s lackey, AG William Barr, announced months ago that migrants would not be given any hearings and would keep them locked up indefinitely.  The overcrowding, the deplorable living conditions, the culture of abuse: all are by design.

Young migrant teens who declare asylum are just attempting to seek relief for them and their children from unspeakable violence, but instead can wind up sexually abused by ICE. This should make all Americans outraged, despite your stance on immigration. Yet our leaders can’t even get the courage to impeach. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters have never shown that they have any sort of moral compass when it comes to sexual assault or child molestation. They worship Trump, and doggedly support men like Brett Kavanaugh and Roy Moore. The rape of migrants? They’re not even American, and it’s somehow their fault for coming here.


Its bad enough that these young teens in our custody have little protection. Worse, if one is raped by an ICE agent and gets pregnant, she cannot seek an abortion

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the oversight of the U.S. refugee admissions program, on Capitol Hill, October 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. The Trump administration is expected to set the fiscal year 2018 refugee ceiling at 45,000, down from the previous ceiling at 50,000. It would be the lowest refugee ceiling since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Office of Refugee Resettlement Director Scott Lloyd

A Trump administration memo forces all abortions, even those conceived in rape, to be personally signed off by a right-wing extremist who happened to be Trump’s Office of Refugee Resettlement Director. Thankfully, Scott Lloyd very recently left after multiple lawsuits and congressional inquiries. Yet the policy still stands, and I’m sure his replacement will be every bit as awful.

This July 4th weekend, while Trump glorifies himself in an obscene parade, I’m going to have a pretty hard time celebrating our greatness with these despicable attacks being permitted to continue in our own country. 

I’m reminded of October 2003, when George W. Bush gave a speech justifying going to war with Iraq:

Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers and children's prisons are closed forever.

No…. they apparently just moved here.

  • July 4, 2019
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