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Woman Alleges She And Two Other Women In ICE Custody Were Raped Hours Before Being Released And Deported

The United States continues to detain migrants and refugees in detention centers across the country, despite a global health crisis that poses an immense risk to detainees. However, along with the threat of Covid-19 infection – longstanding abuses such as sexual assaults continue to happen inside detention centers.

One brave woman has come forward with her story about a sexual assault that happened at a detention facility outside Houston, Texas.

A federal lawsuit alleges that three women were sexually assaulted hours before being deported back to Mexico.

In a federal lawsuit that was filed on Wednesday, a Mexican woman, who was being held inside an immigration detention facility, said she was raped along with two other women. The woman, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, is suing CoreCivic – a major private prison company that operates several ICE detention facilities across the U.S.

While in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, the plaintiff said she and two other women were taken from their dorms and placed inside a dark small room. Around midnight, three men in street wear entered the cell and sexually assaulted all of the women. The attackers hit the women in the face, used brutal force and raped each of them.

Hours later, all three of the victims were put on buses and deported back to Mexico – without even being given the chance to shower after the attack.

“She was in a very vulnerable position,” said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Michelle Simpson Tuegel. “I don’t think by chance that these women were targeted on the eve of deportation, and that she was sexually assaulted right as she was being deported.”

“It wasn’t really a position where she had anyone or could do anything at that point,” Tuegel said. 

The woman said she became pregnant as a result of the rape.

The alleged attack occurred June 1, 2018. The plaintiff released a video statement detailing some of the alleged incident. In it, she reveals that shortly after returning to Mexico, she discovered that she was pregnant.

“I became pregnant as a result of the rape and am now the mother of a girl,” she said in the video. 

Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel said that while the plaintiff loves her daughter regardless of how she came into the world, the mother suffered a difficult birth. 

“She conceived a child as a result of this rape and then had a pretty difficult…birth in a rural area of Mexico. She would not have had that, had it not been for this rape,” Simpson Tuegel said. 

Although ICE hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, they have defended the actions of their employees.

Credit: US DHS

ICE said in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation, but said lack of comment should not be taken as agreement with any of the allegations.

“ICE employees and contractors are held to the highest standard of professional and ethical conduct,” the agency said. “Incidents of misconduct are treated with the utmost seriousness and investigated thoroughly. When substantiated, appropriate action is taken.”

Unfortunately, sexual assault and rape are extremely common in ICE detention centers.

Credit: Sally Whitfield / Getty

According to reporting done by The Intercept, between 2010 and 2017, there were 1,224 complaints involving sexual assault. Perhaps even more startling, is that of these more than 1,200 sexual assault allegations – only 43 were ever investigated.

It’s also important to note the extreme obstacles encountered by those wanting to report assaults – from fear and retaliation to outright lack of resources. These patterns suggest that sexual assault and harassment is ICE detention centers are not only widespread but systemic, enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable.

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