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ICE issues new guidelines for transgender detainees

While the detention policies of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have long faced criticism from both immigration advocates and human rights groups, one policy in particular has recently been drawing intense condemnation: the treatment of transgender detainees.

According to statistics, there are roughly 60 transgender detainees currently being held in ICE detention centers across the country. Of these 60 transgender detainees, close to 25 are being held in a special unit in a California-based facility, while the rest are kept in general population according to their biological gender, not the gender with which they identify.

Experts indicate that this latter practice of keeping transgender detainees in general population is not only problematic from a human rights perspective, but from a safety perspective as they are at an increased risk of assault.

Fortunately, it appears as if real changes are now in the works following the issuance of new guidelines by ICE to its detention staff this past Monday.

These new guidelines call on detention staff to consider the preferences of transgender detainees when making decisions related to everything from pronoun use to housing and clothing.

Furthermore, the ICE guidelines indicate that detention staff will be trained on how to draft individual detention plans accounting for important items like safety and hormone therapy, and that the agency itself will start gathering more data on this important issue going forward.

While many have acknowledged this guidance from ICE as a good start, still others are less than enthused. Indeed, groups like Immigration Equality argue that in light of the fact that transgender people make up such a small percentage of the overall detainee population, yet face such a heightened risk to their personal safety, it makes the most sense for them to be offered detention alternatives much like those suffering from serious health conditions or pregnant women.

It will be interesting to see whether this guidance is indeed adopted by detention staff. Stay tuned for updates.

If your loved one was picked up by ICE and is now being held in a detention center, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about the law and your options.

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