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December 16, 2014

LGBT Immigration Leaders: New ICE Director’s Confirmation Opportunity for Responsible Leadership

Advocates Call on Saldaña to End Inhumane Treatment of LGBT Immigrants in Detention

New York, NY/ Washington, DC – LGBT advocates look to Sarah Saldaña, the next head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to use her authority to address the increasing crisis of physical and sexual violence against vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive individuals trapped in immigration detention centers. Immigration Equality and advocates across the country hope the incoming director will set a new course toward more humane treatment.

“We hope to work closely with Saldaña and ICE as we advocate for the implementation of new policies that protect vulnerable LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants,” said Caroline Dessert, Executive Director of Immigration Equality. “In detention, LGBT immigrants are often exposed to the same persecution they fled in the first place. Community-based alternatives to immigration detention are effective. Solutions to prevent sexual and psychological harm to LGBT immigrants trapped in detention have been in the hands of the decision-makers at DHS and ICE for years. With new leadership comes a new opportunity for this inhumane and dangerous practice to be corrected.” 

“Sarah Saldaña will step into an agency that has already recognized some populations simply do not belong in detention centers pending a court date,” said Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We hope she will act on the overwhelming evidence that LGBT people–many of them asylum-seekers and torture survivors–are one of those populations. Ultimately, responsible leadership will mean working with Congress to roll back ICE’s costly reliance on mass detention.​”


Since 1994, Immigration Equality has been representing LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers, detainees, and binational couples, who are fighting for safety, fair treatment, and freedom. Immigration Equality represents people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. Our team of legal experts has won asylum for more than 600 LGBT and HIV-positive individuals.