Home > Press Releases > Immigration Equality Denounces Attorney General’s Decision to Detain Asylum Seekers Indefinitely

April 17, 2019

Kristen Thompson, communications@immigrationequality.org | +1 917 620 4502
Spencer Tilger, communications@immigrationequality.org| +1 917 654 8994

Immigration Equality Denounces Attorney General’s Decision to Detain Asylum Seekers Indefinitely

The decision puts LGBTQ and HIV-positive people in detention
at increased risk of abuse and violence

NEW YORK, NY — Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr decided that asylum seekers who enter the U.S. between ports of entry are subject to mandatory detention and not eligible for bond, even if they have a credible fear of persecution.

Aaron Morris, Immigration Equality’s Executive Director, issued the following statement in response:

“Attorney General Barr’s decision to detain asylum seekers indefinitely while awaiting trial is not only cruel, it’s unconstitutional. Asylum proceedings can take months or years to conclude, leaving refugees to languish in prison-like conditions. This decision is particularly harmful to LGBTQ and HIV-positive refugees, who have strong claims for asylum and for whom detention is particularly dangerous. Every day that the government subjects LGBTQ asylum seekers to detention puts them at risk of violent abuse.”

Immigration Equality client spokesperson Ishalaa Ortega, a transgender woman who fled persecution in Mexico for her LGBTQ activism, shared testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last Friday about her experience in immigration detention:

“They incarcerated me for 50 days. I received despicable treatment and experienced humiliation. I don’t feel like I committed a crime. I was just looking to save my own life. Asylum seekers are looking for protection, but we are getting treated like criminals. We should find alternatives to prison for undocumented people, especially transgender women who are the most vulnerable besides children. I hope together we can end these abuses.”

Ishalaa was granted asylum in 2016. For more information about her story, visit: https://www.immigrationequality.org/ishalaa/


Immigration Equality is the nation’s leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization. We represent and advocate for people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse, and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. Our legal team has won asylum for more than 1,200 LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants while maintaining a 99% success rate.