The Migrant Rights and Justice Program has been working with partner organizations, such as the ACLU, Legal Momentum, Human Rights Watch, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, to draft recommendations for ICE to include in the new Performance-Based National Detention Standards.
A few of our key recommendations include: improved medical standards; policies of protective custody or segregation for more than 24 hours should never be enforced for detainee victims of sexual assault, unless requested by the detainee; vehicles and planes must always be staffed with officers of the same gender as the detainees.
The Migrant Rights and Justice Program has also worked to ensure that immigration detention facilities are included in the Prison Rape Elimination Act Standards and is advocating that they be fully implemented and enforced in immigration detention facilities nationwide.
Conditions: The Womenâ€™s Refugee Commission consistently finds that detention center conditions are inappropriate for womenâ€™s safety and well-being. Women are held in prisons or facilities modeled after prisons and are often mixed with the general criminal population.
We have also found that asylum seeking women who are held in these prisons face physical and verbal abuse and frequently endure prolonged detention under conditions that fail to meet international principles of refugee protection and basic standards of decency and compassion.
Detention centers are often located in remote areas of the United States where few pro bono attorneys are available. Therefore, this policy restricts asylum-seekersâ€™ ability to pursue their asylum claims by limiting their access to legal counsel, as well as to other individuals and services that could support their claims.
U.S. Law and Policy: Currently, U.S. asylum laws, regulations and policies fail to provide an expedited and systematic means to identify individuals who have suffered persecution. In many cases, policies and case law have not yet developed sufficiently to recognize many age and gender-related claims - for example, cases of women who have endured domestic violence.
Access to Legal Orientation Presentations: These presentations, administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, assist detained individuals in immigration court proceedings by explaining their legal rights and options. They have increased detaineesâ€™ ability to make better informed, and thus wiser, decisions about their cases. Unfortunately, due to limited funding, few women and children benefit from this service.
Mandatory Detention: Under current U.S. legislation, individuals arriving in the United States without valid documentation are subject to mandatory detention. They are taken - often handcuffed and shackled - to detention centers, where they are consequently detained for months or years.