EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Lawyers for detained individuals at the ICE El Paso Processing Center are claiming the detainees have been sexually assaulted and harassed by ICE guards.
According to a news release from Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, three victims have come forward and have accused guards at the ICE El Paso Processing Center of taking part in sexual and predatory behavior.
The Center said it has taken the issue to the El Paso District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, the DHS Office of Inspector General and the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
“As outlined in our complaint, many of these victims are continuously manipulated into accepting mistreatment as guards make false promises about the outcomes of their immigration case or offer to improve detention conditions in exchange for sexual favors,” Las Americas said in a news release.
The Texas Tribune first reported the allegations of abuse. In a statement to the Texas Tribune, an ICE spokesperson said the agency was aware of the accusations and that they would be investigated, adding, ICE has “zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse or assault against individuals in the agency’s custody and takes very seriously all allegations of employee misconduct. … When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.”
KTSM 9 News reached out to the District Attorney’s office, which responded:
“The Office of the District Attorney has received the letter from Linda Corchado, an attorney with Las Americas, and is aware of the criminal allegations raised in the letter that has occurred at the local ICE facility. The letter has been forwarded to the Office of Inspector General, Homeland Security for investigation.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also issued a statement saying:
“This office received a letter containing these allegations on Wednesday. We take allegations of misconduct by public officials extremely seriously. Our office’s role is not to investigate allegations of crime, but rather to prosecute federal offenses when cases are referred to us by an investigative agency. We have accordingly forwarded the letter to the appropriate investigative agencies.”
This is a developing story. Look for updates as more information becomes available.