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Qtongress

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mla~bington,ll 20515
March 23, 2016
The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Johnson:
We write to express concerns regarding the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)
individuals who are held at ICE detention centers. LGBT individuals are among the most vulnerable in
ICE custody, and our policies must reflect the unique circumstances this population faces and protect
them from mistreatment. While efforts like the Transgender Care Memorandum are positive
developments, they still fall short of fulfilling that goal.
A recent report from the Center for American Progress indicates that ICE overrides release
recommendations in Risk Classification Assessments (RCA) when the recommendation explicitly calls
for release in one-third of all cases. However, when those decisions involve LGBT detainees, the override
rate rises to two-thirds of all cases.
Additionally, when bonds are set at thousands of dollars, most asylum seekers cannot afford release from
detention. That financial barrier compounds for LGBT immigrants who are often fleeing persecution in
their home country with no wealth at all. With no employment protections or means of income, they are
simply unable to meet these unreasonably high bond charges.
We appreciate you issuing the Transgender Care Memorandum, but inherent in that action is the
recognition that trans gender individuals are in particular need of protection. As highlighted in the June 23,
2015 House letter, transgender detainees face high incidences of sexual assault. We are glad that the
Memorandum attempts to provide an infrastructure for housing transgender people based on their gender
identity, but the lack of its implementation in any facility, and the fact that each facility can decide
whether or not to adopt the contract modification, undermine its success. Furthermore, while the 2011
Performance-Based National Detention Standards require transgender-related healthcare based on
medical need, provision of appropriate care is inconsistent.
The Department's decision to transfer transgender women detainees to Santa Ana City Jail is a case-inpoint for why a uniform policy is desperately needed. As outlined in a recent complaint filed with the
Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Santa Ana City Jail routinely subjects all detainees to
invasive and unreasonable strip searches due to its combined immigrant and local crime populations.
While ICE is required to consider such factors as legal representation, familial ties to the community,
place of residence, and whe-re an individual will feel safest, reports indicate that transfers to Santa Ana are
taking place involuntarily and without regard for such factors.
Given these myriad of concerns facing the LGBT community in ICE custody, we urge you to parole or
utilize community-based alternatives to detention for LGBT individuals whenever possible under your
existing discretionary authority, or where you determine it is necessary for the safety of the individual.
To address the concerns raised above, we request the following information to provide assurance that the
utmost effort is made to protect the LGBT population detained by ICE:
1. Under what criteria do ICE employees override the determination of the RCA for the release of
LGBT people?

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2. What oversight does OHS have over ICE's implementation of RCA and cases where ICE
overrides the RCA recommendation?
3. Which facilities will adopt the Transgender Care Memorandum? What is the timeline for
implementation? When will there be at least one facility compliant with the Memorandum within
each Area of Responsibility?
4. What procedures are in place to protect transgender immigrants in facilities that do not adopt the
contract modification?
5. What steps will you take to ensure that detained transgender individuals have access to qualified
medical professionals who are familiar with the Standards of Care?
6. How will you ensure that a transgender individual is not transferred to another facility against
their will?
We urge you to act swiftly to address these issues. The safety and security of many LGBT individuals
depend on it. We look forward to collaborating on this pressing issue.
Sincerely,

Michael M. Honda
Member of Congress

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