ICE: We Have 'Special Housing Unit' in L.A. For 'Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Detainees'

Melanie Arter | January 30, 2015 | 3:35pm EST
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(AP Photo)

( – An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement testified Friday during a discussion on immigration detention facilities, hosted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, about a “special housing unit in the Los Angeles area dedicated to the gay, bisexual and transgender detainees.”

“We have a special housing unit in the Los Angeles area dedicated to the gay, bisexual and transgender detainees,” said Kevin Landy, assistant director of the ICE office of detention policy and planning.

“Individuals who prefer a transfer even across the country to that facility for their safety rather than being in a general population housing unit are afforded that opportunity, and we have transferred many people long distances at their choice to that unit,” he said.

“And we have an ongoing working group in this area to consider additional reforms on these issues, including adopting the most progressive policies,” Landy said. “There are a couple of jails in the entire country that have essentially transgender committees.”

When transgender detainees are taken into custody, they are assessed individually, and decisions about how the individual will be classified and where the individual will be placed “may not be based solely on the biological anatomy of that individual,” Landy said.

During the intake process, detainees are asked a number of questions, including “whether any of a variety of special vulnerabilities apply,” Landy said. “One of those special vulnerabilities is whether that individual might fear for their safety in detention due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. So that’s a factor being taken in immediately.”

ICE has a policy that no one may be placed in segregation “solely due to being transgender – that we cannot have a default policy that anybody who’s transgender will inherently be vulnerable,” he said.

ICE is immediately made aware when a transgender detainee is placed in segregation, “and we look at those cases very carefully,” Landy said.

“Our statistics indicate that at any given time on average, only one transgender detainee is in segregation in our entire system for more than 14 days at a time. ... Those are the statistics that I can recall most easily, but those cases are rare,” he added.

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