A guard with the Hutto Detention Center in Texas has been fired after sexual assault allegations involving the groping and propositioning of female detainees being deported. Immigrant advocacy groups assert that sexual assault and other forms of abuse are not unique to the Hutto facility and are evidence of systemic problems including poor oversight and accountability mechanisms.
The Hutto facility is managed by a private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, which has been placed on probation byImmigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE). Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum
notes that as a result of immigration laws that lead to the detention of thousands of migrants, ICE must contract with companies designed to manage penal institutions. As a consequence, non-criminal migrants are housed in a system designed for criminals and which ICE is unable to effectively oversee.
ICE maintains that the Hutto abuses occurred because ICE transport policies and procedures were not followed and it has directed Corrections Corporation of America to implement these policies, which include prohibiting male guards from being alone with female detainees.
The Hutto facility was portrayed by ICE as a model facility after its reincarnation last year as a center for female detainees. Previous to this, the center held detained families under conditions that provoked both protests and lawsuits.
The present allegations of abuse follow reforms instituted by ICE in March that were praised by a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups as “important steps” toward improving the conditions of immigration detention centers.