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

Discharged Gay vet refused re-enlistment despite lack of DADT law

As of this morning, the Department of Justice hasn’t sought a stay of the DADT injunction. We’re expecting it. The White House has been telegraphing it.

The New York Times has a great article on the history of the Log Cabin Republicans lawsuit against DADT. It was an improbable quest, but they prevailed. And, the piece quoted the named plaintiff in the case, our friend Alex Nicholson:

“We have been surprised at every stage of this,” said Alexander Nicholson, a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and a former Army intelligence specialist who was discharged because of the policy. “We thought the judge would follow every other pattern the other judges have followed: deference to the military.”…

…“The fact that she did not dismiss the case was a huge surprise,” Mr. Nicholson said. “Then she continued to surprise us.”

Then, there was this interesting development at the end of the piece. In the wake of the decision, a discharged Vet, joined by GetEQUAL, tried to re-enlist:

But with the ultimate fate of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule still unclear, some celebrations are being delayed.

With a briefcase full of commendations under his arm, Omar Lopez walked into an Austin, Tex., recruiting office Wednesday. Mr. Lopez, 29, had served nearly five years in the Navy. He was honorably discharged in 2006 for “homosexual admission,” according to documents he carried. He wanted to re-enlist.

But recruiters turned him away hastily, saying they had no knowledge of any injunction or any change in military policy.

“I like the civilian world, but I miss it,” Mr. Lopez said of the military, as he arrived with a worker for Get Equal, a gay rights advocacy group. “I feel lost without it.”


—  John Wright

Cornyn gives thumbs up to anti-gay Christine O’Donnell despite his attendance at LCR fundraiser

My friends at the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud have now been placed in a very awkward position by the social conservatives in the Republican party. The GOP strategy has been to stay away from the social issues that haunt the GOP, but it’s terribly hard for these gay conservatives to explain away the comments and associations that are blooming in the 2010 primaries.

Take anti-masturbator and anti-gay winner of the GOP primary in Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. She has been endorsed by well-known homophobe Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). It’s the same John Cornyn who will be mingling among the homosexuals at a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans. He also offered up a check to O’Donnell for K. (Igor @ The Wonk Room):

“I reached out to Christine this morning, and as I have conveyed to all of our nominees, I offered her my personal congratulations and let her know that she has our support,” Cornyn wrote in an email. This support includes a check for ,000 — the maximum allowable donation that we have provided to all of our nominees.” Later in the day, he appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show to clear up any confusion about his commitment:

CORNYN: Well, really I don’t know the source of the rumors that were attributed to the Republican National Senatorial Committee. I’m the Chairman as you know and certainly without my authorization I corrected the record, talking to Christine this morning. Told her we will support her, in fact we send her some money already…I’ve encouraged my other colleagues to send money from their leadership PAC funds. We’re going to do everything we can to help her get elected in November.

Igor went the extra mile and asked for comment from the LCR — no one has replied to his inquiry about Cornyn’s disconnect. The issue is that social conservative orgs have denounced Cornyn for attending the LCR fundraiser, but the pro-LGBT conservative orgs like GOProud have not commented on Cornyn’s remarks with any criticism at all. Jimmy LaSalvia of GOProud dodges the crux of the matter:

“if you look at it, O’Donnell wasn’t elected on social issues. She was elected nominated for the same reason that a lot of other candidates are bing nominated and that’s to call an end to the status quo in Washington.”

This does not answer the question of whether support will be withheld from candidates who are anti-gay, and this case quite openly. Where is the line drawn in the struggle for equality? We can’t reform the GOP if their promised bigotry when legislating is a factor. Just playing it down is not the problem — we have to know where a pol stands when it’s time to cast a vote regarding equality matters.


Dem voters in Purple and Red states are often left with poor choices — the active homophobe (R) and the less-active/homophobe or spine free (D). The point is you have to try to change the moveable candidate and start grooming more equality-positive candidates to unseat the spine free one down the line.

The problem for the LCR and GOProud is they are far away from cultivating actual prospective pols  to run who are neutral or pro-equality. What isn’t acceptable is a PR campaign to present something that does not exist yeta few more allies and actual gays coming out of the closet doesn’t outweigh the boatload of conservatives already in the electoral pipeline who are flat-out anti-LGBT. I wish them luck on effecting change, but until they can openly criticize when there are bigots on the ballot, it only delays accountability.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright