Complaint: LGBT immigrants abused, neglected at detention centers run by Homeland Security

The National Immigration Justice Center has filed civil rights complaints on behalf of 13 LGBT immigrants who were allegedly abused and neglected at detention centers run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in nine states, including one in Houston. The Heartland Alliance’s NIJC filed the complaints today in a letter addressed to Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, calling on the department to investigate and implement new policies.

The group has also launched a petition calling on the DHS and President Barack Obama to end the abuse of LGBT immigrants in detention.

The 13 complaints include allegations of sexual assault, denial of adequate medical care, long-term solitary confinement, discrimination and abuse, and ineffective complaints and appeals process. Below are a few examples from the letter, which you can download in its entirety here:

• [Juan] was sexually assaulted by two other detainees. Despite repeated requests for a transfer to another facility because he feared for his safety [Juan] was not transferred until three months after the incident, when ICE Headquarters intervened. In the meantime, the only “protection” that the Otero County Detention Center offered was placement in the “hole.” (Otero County Detention Center, New Mexico)

• [Delfino] was held in segregation for four months, justifying their decision on the basis that [Delfino] presented “effeminately.” Facility staff refused to provide [Delfino] a Bible and permitted him only one hour of recreation – in a cold nine- by-thirteen-foot cell – per day. (Houston Processing Center, Texas)

• [Monica] continues to be denied hormone therapy, despite her use of hormones for ten years prior to immigration detention, and her physical and psychological reliance on them. [Monica], now detained for over five months, told NIJC staff, “I can’t even look at myself in the mirror anymore,” due to returning facial and body hair and other distressing changes. [Monica], an asylum seeker who has suffered grave past abuse in Mexico, also received no treatment for her trauma- related depression. She attempted suicide in February 2011 – the facility put her in solitary confinement as punishment. (Santa Ana City Jail, California)

• [Alexis] was repeatedly called a “faggot” by guards, who also made jokes about her dying of AIDS. They singled her out for public searches in which they forced her to remove her outer clothing and mocked her exposed breasts. (Theo Lacy Facility, California)

—  John Wright

Gay Saudi diplomat in Los Angeles fears execution after being fired, ordered home

Man seeks asylum, goes into hiding

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A gay Saudi diplomat seeking political asylum said his position was terminated and he was ordered to return to his home country where he fears he will be killed.

In an e-mail to news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, Saudi consulate official Ali Ahmad Asseri said his passport wasn’t renewed and his position in the Los Angeles office was eliminated after Saudi officials learned that he is gay and he befriended a Jewish woman.

Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia.

“My life is in a great danger here, and if I go back to Saudi Arabia they will kill me openly in broad daylight,” Asseri wrote in the message.

Asseri, who has been in the U.S. for five years, is in hiding, according to supporters.

His lawyer, Ally Bolour, told NBC News — which first reported the story last weekend — that his client applied for asylum because he was a member of a particular social group that would subject him to persecution if he went back to Saudi Arabia.

Asseri was questioned Aug. 30 by a Department of Homeland Security official in Los Angeles, said Bolour, who declined further comment until the case has been decided.

In July, Asseri posted an appeal to King Abdullah on a popular Arabic website in which he railed against the “backwardness” of Saudi officials and “militant Imams who defaced the tolerance of Islam.”

—  John Wright