The agents in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, commonly known as ICE, have been in the news a lot lately.
None of it is good.
Now, a new report unveils the staggering number of cases of sexual abuse under the agency’s jurisdiction, the majority of which have gone uninvestigated.
The Intercept reported this week there were 1,224 incidents of sexual abuse against detainees in ICE custody from 2010 to Sept. 2017. Only a paltry 43 cases were ever investigated. The report suggests the number of complaints have been vastly underreported from the population of 40,000 detainees – including children.
One man said an ICE agent forced him to perform oral sex and threatened to deport him to a country different than the one he left.
One woman said she claimed about a guard who threatened to rape her, but nothing happened and he remained in his position.
The formal complaints varied from sexual harassment to brutal gang rape. The risk for retribution is astronomical, as detainees must often report the incident to the friends and co-workers of the accused ICE agent. The assaults happened in several states across the country, pointing to a larger-scale systemic abuse of power.
These stories and statistics are supposed to be public knowledge, but ICE has never formally published its findings, instead filing a request to purge certain detention records, like those relating to sexual assault.
“Sexual abuse in immigration detention is a crisis, but it’s a completely preventable one,” said Jesse Lerner-Kinglake from Just Detention International, an advocacy group looking to end sexual violence against detainees. “Any sexual assault in confinement represents a failure on the part of officials running the facility.”