Immigration authorities in South Carolina will now have to take gender identity into account when determining where to house transgender detainees. On June 29, U.S. immigration officials announced that they would begin housing transgender women with female populations. An 18-page memo containing new guidelines aimed at protecting transgender detainees has been issued.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reportedly spent six months studying the treatment of transgender detainees in order to develop the new guidelines. Advocates say that when transgender women are placed in detention centers with men, they are more likely to be sexually abused. Other problems occur when transgender detainees are placed in isolation for significant periods of time. In male prisons in California, the risk of being sexually abused is 13 times higher for transgender women than it is for male inmates.
Under the new guidelines, the data systems that are maintained by ICE will keep records of all of the transgender detainees' gender identities. To avoid confusion over a detainee's gender identity, officers will be trained in identifying transgender people. According to the new national LGBTI coordinator who will be overseeing the immigration detention changes, there are around 75 transgender people currently being held by ICE.
An immigration attorney may be able to advocate for a transgender person who is facing deportation proceedings. If the transgender person is being held in detention, an attorney may advocate for their release in order to be in a better position to build a strong removal defense. An attorney may also help a person who has been targeted for removal by ICE to determine what deportation relief programs they may qualify for.