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House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) wrote a letter to ICE’s Acting Director, Matthew T. Albence, demanding the release of transgender migrants who are being held at ICE detention facilities.

It has been signed by 45 members.

Quigley is a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
The letter explains that transgender migrants face a heightened and unique set of injustices in immigration detention because they are particularly vulnerable to physical assault and medical neglect. Inhumane conditions and systematic abuses are evidenced in countless reports and in accounts from formerly detained migrants.

Moreover, ICE’s pervasive use of solitary confinement has put them at risk of physical and mental health deterioration and made them vulnerable to sexual assault. LBGT migrants in detention are 97 times more likely to be sexually victimized than the non-transgender population.

Quigley’s concerns appear to be justified, and ICE is not doing as much as it should to deal with the problems he has raised. A September 2019 report from the DHS Office of Inspector General revealed that ICE is not providing enough oversight at its detention facilities.

That however does not justify ignoring the law. ICE’s failure with regard to protecting transgender detainees — by itself — cannot justify flouting the statutory detention provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The boring but important part:

INA § 236(a) authorizes the arrest and detention of aliens who are subject to removal proceedings pending a determination on whether they will be removed from the United States. It provides discretion, however, to release them on a case-by-case basis if they post a bond or, when appropriate, on a promise to return for scheduled proceedings.

INA § 236(c) requires mandatory detention of aliens who fall within certain enumerated criminal or terrorism-related categories, with some exceptions.

INA § 235(b) generally requires the detention of aliens seeking admission and certain aliens who are in the United States physically but were not lawfully admitted. Parole is available for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.

INA § 241(a) generally requires detention of up to 90 days for aliens who are subject to final orders of removal while arrangements are being made to deport them, and they may be detained longer if the agency cannot deport them during the 90-day period.

Problem with the letter

Quigley’s demand letter does not provide a legitimate basis for disregarding those provisions of the law.

Read more at https://thehill.com/opinion/immigrat...wmakers-doesnt

Published originally on The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1 or at https://nolanrappaport.blogspot.com.