According to a new report by Fusion, a multi-platform American company owned by Univision Communication, out of 33,126 complaints of sexual and physical abuse in immigration detention, only 570 cases have been investigated by the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the agency’s oversight office.
The complaint filed by the immigrant rights group, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), includes reports of sexual and physical assaults during medical examinations, strip searches and rapes in detention allegedly perpetrated by guards and other detainees, Fusion said, stating that the complaints reviewed were filed between January 2010 and July 2016.
“There has been no formal complaint filed with this clear and massive amount of data” until now,” Fusion quoted advocates as saying.
The reports of abuse were made at several DHS agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Coast Guard, Fusion said.
In an overwhelming majority of cases, it said CIVIC found that the Office of the Inspector General sent cases back to the accused agency with no request that they follow up with OIG.
The complaint filed by CIVIC recommends that the US Congress mandate that DHS start publishing information on all reported complaints of sexual abuse in their facilities and the investigation outcomes on a quarterly basis, Fusion said.
It said the complaint found that the top five facilities with the most sexual assault complaints are all privately-run immigration detention facilities.
Fusion said about 44.4 percent of the reports (or 14,693 of the total number of complaints) were made against ICE, according to the complaint, which relied on data obtained from the OIG through Freedom of Information Act and state public record requests made by CIVIC. CBP had 10,295 reports or 31.1 percent of the total, according to the complaint.
“The statistics included in the complaint are especially alarming given that President Donald Trump has proposed quickly hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol agents and 10,000 more ICE officers, and expanding immigration detention to help enforce his executive orders,” Fusion said.
“Advocates fear the hiring spree could lead to less thorough background checks and trainings for staffers, which could make matters worse,” it added.
Currently, the average daily population in ICE detention is just over 40,000 detainees, according to the agency.
A leaked internal DHS document obtained by The Washington Post this week said that DHS has allegedly identified an additional 33,000 detention beds it can use to detain undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants..
According to documents, the agency is considering ending polygraph and physical fitness tests to speed up the hiring process for Border Patrol agents.
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