Interrupting Obama pays off: ICE issues new guidance on the care of transgender individuals in custody
While most of the country flipped out over a trans immigration activist interrupting President Obama during his comments LGBT Pride Month last week, the activist responsible seemed to have gotten her point across.
ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency which handles the detainment and removal of undocumented immigrants, has released new guidelines for handling transgender detainees.
“The Transgender Care Memorandum reaffirms ICE’s commitment to provide a safe, secure, and respectful environment for all those in our custody, including those individuals who identify as transgender,” said ICE ERO Executive Assistant Director Thomas Homan. “We want to make sure our employees have the tools and resources available to learn more about how to interact with transgender individuals and ensure effective standards exist to house and care for them throughout the custody cycle.”
The changes include new data systems to support recording an offender under their gender identity, information which will be included in future decision making for the individual, new officer training programs so ICE officials should be more aware of trans-sensitive needs, and housing placement, which includes making a “facility-based multidisciplinary Transgender Care Classification Committee” which will be responsible for making decisions related to trans-detainees housing needs.
These changes came as the result of what the Obama Administration called a 6 month “agency Working Group,” and included input from “subject matter experts and transgender individuals.” The working group said they also visited “various non-federal facilities across the country to observe best practices.”
Jennicet Gutiérrez (top image), the trans-woman who interrupted Obama mid-speech last week, tired to holler over the President about the issues trans detainees face in ICE facilities. She was shut down by Obama, and booed by event attendees.
You can watch the video below:
Gutiérrez wrote an OpEd in the Washington Blade explaining why she spoke out the way she did, saying immigrant trans women are 12 times more likely to face discrimination, and 1 out of 5 trans detainees are victims of sexual abuse in ICE custody:
The violence my trans sisters face in detention centers is one of torture and abuse. The torture and abuse come from ICE officials and other detainees in these detention centers. I have spoken with my trans immigrant sisters who were recently released from detention centers. With a lot of emotional pain and heavy tears in their eyes, they opened up about the horrendous treatment they all experienced. Often seeking asylum to escape threats of violence because of their gender identity and sexuality, this is how they’re greeted in this country. At times misgendered, exposed to assault, and put in detention centers with men.
In response to the new guidelines, Gutiérrez took to twitter to say “we don’t need guidelines, we need freedom,” linking to a #Not1More campaign press release, a group which works to “expose, confront, and overcome unjust immigration laws.”
“A guidance document cannot be expected to change the fact that DHS and ICE have consistently failed at maintaining a minimum of safety and dignity for transgender immigrants,” read the release. “Transgender immigrants and other vulnerable populations, including mothers with their children and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) detainees, should be released from detention.”
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