A new immigration center in Texas will include a special unit for transgender detainees, highlighting some of the difficulties they face in these facilities.
A report in Inquisitr stated the Prairieland Detention Center will open in November in Alvarado in Texas and will be the second center to include a transgender unit.
ICE says it is expected to house about 700 detainees. There will be a segregated 36-bed unit for transgender occupants.
The agency points out each detainee will be given an individual detention plan that covers such things as clothing options, hygiene issues, searches and accommodation assignments.
These apparent safeguards have failed to satisfy advocates’ groups who claim transgender people are more vulnerable than the rest of the population and are more likely to be victims of sexual and physical assaults when they are held in detention facilities.
Aaron Morris, executive director of Immigration Equality, an advocates group for LGBT immigrants, told the Guardian they “simply should not be in detention”.
Morris said putting most of one vulnerable group in a single facility raises serious issues of oversight.
There are also concerns about whether the safeguards would be put in place. Santa Ana city jail in Texas also has a specialized program for transgender people, but the Guardian reported it has yet to implement the specialist guidance that was published in a June 2015 memorandum.
How Many Undocumented Immigrants Are Transgender?
According to the UCLA Williams Institute, there are 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the United States. Between 15,000 and 50,000 are transgender, states the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Some of these immigrants come to the U.S. because they have faced persecution in their home nation, while others are looking for a better quality of life here. Interviews with transgender people suggest they are more likely to face discrimination than other immigrants once they are in the U.S.
Diverse cities such as Austin are magnets for immigrants. Austin became a “majority minority” city more than 10 years ago. The rush to build centers for these immigrants in Texas highlights the way the authorities are finally recognizing the rights of transgender people, but support groups say it doesn’t go far enough, and there is certainly a raft of concerns about how immigrants are treated in detention centers. This issue is part of the immigration reform debate in Texas.