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Liberal Groups Criticize Reported Immigration Detention Plans For Trans Women

The groups allege in a letter to President Obama that GEO Group, a private organization that runs a detention facility in Southern California, cannot be trusted to care for transgender women. GEO Group "strongly refutes" the claims.

Posted on August 24, 2015, at 5:17 p.m. ET

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — More than 90 progressive groups are expressing concern over reports that some transgender women in immigration custody will be transferred to a facility run by an organization they allege has a history of mistreating transgender women.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new guidance in June on the treatment of transgender people in its custody. Shortly after the new guidance was issued, it was reported that some transgender women were to be moved to the Adelanto Detention Facility run by GEO Group.

On Monday, the groups — led by Immigration Equality and including the ACLU and several Latino and LGBT groups — wrote to President Obama that they "are extremely concerned about recent news that transgender women may soon be transferred to Adelanto Detention Facility in Southern California. Adelanto is run by the private GEO Group, which has a record of abusing detained people including transgender women."

Specifically, they note concerns about the availability of medical care, claims of sexual harassment, and reports of solitary confinement, concluding, "GEO Group cannot be trusted to care for transgender women or house them safely."

A spokesman for GEO Group, Pablo Paez, told BuzzFeed News, "GEO's facilities, including the Adelanto Detention Facility, provide high quality services in safe, secure, and humane residential environments, and our company strongly refutes allegations to the contrary."

He added, "During its most recent ACA accreditation audit, the Adelanto Detention Facility received a perfect score of 100%."

Notably, two of the largest Latino and LGBT rights organizations, respectively — the National Council of La Raza and the Human Rights Campaign — are not signatories to the letter.

ICE spokesperson Jennifer Elzea referred questions to the White House, given that the letter was sent to President Obama, adding, "We're confident that the agency will respond through the appropriate channels."

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

GEO Group's Adelanto Detention Facility:

Read the letter:

Read GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez's full statement:

"Our company has had a long-standing public-private partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and its predecessor agency that dates back to the mid-1980s. GEO's facilities, including the Adelanto Detention Facility, provide high quality services in safe, secure, and humane residential environments, and our company strongly refutes allegations to the contrary. Our facilities adhere to strict contractual requirements and standards set by ICE, and the agency employs several full-time, on-site contract monitors who have a physical presence at each of GEO's facilities. Additionally, GEO's facilities provide office space for ICE personnel, immigration attorneys, immigration court judges, non-governmental organizations, and other constituent groups who have unfettered access to each facility. All of GEO's facilities are audited and inspected by the agency on a routine and unannounced basis. GEO's facilities are also independently accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA), which is widely recognized as the foremost independent detention accreditation agency in the United States. During its most recent ACA accreditation audit, the Adelanto Detention Facility received a perfect score of 100%."

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