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Another Transgender Immigrant Sues ICE Detention Center for Cruelty

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DECATUR, GEORGIA – On Friday, June 11, 2021, Eshman Begnaud, in partnership with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (“MALDEF”), sued for the cruelty and abuse that the Irwin County Detention Center (“ICDC”) inflicted on a 26-year-old transgender immigrant. ICDC detained our client, P.R., in June 2018 in solitary confinement for approximately 7 months because of her transgender status.

During this time, she was deprived of human interaction through detainment in a cell for 22 hours each day, and, of the interaction she experienced, was repeatedly harassed and assaulted.

This lawsuit follows six months after the first lawsuit we filed as a result of ICDC holding another transgender immigrant in solitary confinement for months on end.

Unfortunately, these egregious violations are not the only gender-based abuses that the ICDC has been accused of committing. In the fall of 2020, a whistleblower came forward alleging that the facility was performing unneeded, non-consensual mass hysterectomies on immigrant women. Following the whistleblower’s claims, more and more women who had been detained at this facility came forward about the procedures they were subjected to.

Because of these allegations, in May 2021, the Biden Administration announced they would be severing ties and ending federal contracts with ICDC.

“We are glad that the Biden Administration has taken an important first step in recognizing the abuse that occurred at the Irwin County Detention Center and severing ties with that facility,” said Mark Begnaud of Eshman Begnaud LLC, an Atlanta-based civil rights and personal injury law firm. “But that was only the first step; we still must reckon with the unconscionable acts of cruelty that occurred there.  Our client did not deserve to be locked away in prolonged solitary confinement, a punishment the UN regards as torture, solely because she is transgender.”

ICDC is still detaining and transferring immigrants into their facility to this day.

“Transgender immigrants should be treated with dignity and respect. Our lawsuit seeks to bring justice for our client and other transgender immigrants that have suffered cruelty in immigration detention.” says MALDEF attorney Tanya Pellegrini.

We are proud to partner again with MALDEF to pursue justice on behalf of our client and to continue to hold the government accountable for these cruelties and abuses.

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“It is unconscionable that the United States government failed to follow its own policies and rules requiring the safe and secure housing and treatment of transgender immigrants and instead subjected P.R. to inhumane and punitive treatment solely because she is transgender,”

Tanya Pellegrini
Staff attorney at MALDEF – MALDEF

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