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Immigrants face harassment, assault in detention

Immigrants who are in detention centers in Florida and around the country may face abuse from employees including sexual harassment and assault. Unfortunately, there are few protections for them in these situations.

Immigrants do not have the right to an attorney in immigration proceedings. If asylum seekers are in expedited removal, immigration officers have the authority to deport them with very little oversight. Furthermore, the county jails and private detention centers contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house asylum seekers and other immigrants also operate without much oversight.

One woman who has been held in a detention center in Texas is a lesbian asylum seeker from El Salvador. She reported in 2017 that she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a female guard, and she said the guard said she would not be believed if she reported the assault. The FBI launched an investigation in December, but she has reportedly faced retaliation. She has been threatened with solitary confinement by detention center officials if she does not retract her accusation. The woman has already tried to commit suicide in detention.

People who are in immigration detention or facing the possibility of deportation or whose loved ones are may want to consult an attorney. In some cases, it might be possible to stop a deportation. An attorney may also be helpful if a person is seeking asylum. Immigration laws are changing rapidly, and an attorney might be able to explain those changes. A person who has a family member or loved one who wishes to immigrate to the United States might also want to consult an attorney. There might be a several options for immigration besides seeking asylum including on the basis of a job skill or relationship.

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