WASHINGTON — On May 17, the Department of Justice released its final rule on the standards, which will govern the administration and application of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.
DOJ’s final rule will not cover immigration detention, despite strong urging by more than 115 immigration, labor, faith-based, women’s rights, community and victim advocacy organizations that PREA be implemented fully in all immigration detention facilities through the DOJ’s National Standards for the Prevention, Detection, Response and Monitoring of Sexual Abuse.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, Asian American Institute, Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus (and Asian Pacific American Legal Center, supports DOJ’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse, but is disappointed by its limited coverage, leaving thousands in immigration facilities vulnerable to sexual assault and abuse.
The federal regulations represent the first time the U.S. government has created national standards to eliminate sexual abuse in prisons, jails and juvenile detention facilities. However, the documented history of sexual assault in immigration detention is serious and numerous. In its 2009 report to U.S. Attorney General, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission documented widespread reports of sexual abuse in immigration facilities over a 20-year period.
“There is no justifiable reason to exclude immigration detainees from the protections in PREA,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of AAJC. “We are extremely disappointed that DOJ has decided to implement PREA in a way that places hundreds of thousands of men, women and children at risk.”
“DOJ’s regulations are a necessary, first step in addressing sexual abuse and assault in their facilities, but more needs to be done by the federal government to provide adequate oversight and assume legal responsibility for the conditions in prisons, jails and detention centers,” added Hyeon-Ju Rho, executive director of ALC. “DHS must uphold basic standards of human dignity for those in immigration detention.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared that it has begun the regulation drafting process and will promulgate its own regulations – which would apply to immigrant detainees — in eight months. According to DHS, its plan is to build upon existing internal standards.
Advancing Justice urges DHS to swiftly issue its own PREA regulations as protective as the DOJ regulations so that immigrant detainees are protected from sexual assault and abuse to the fullest extent possible.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (www.advancingjustice.org) works to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities, and is comprised of the Asian American Justice Center (www.advancingequality.org), the Asian American Institute (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (www.asianlawcaucus.org) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org).