The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Bessie Muñoz


Current immigration law and the privatization of immigration detention centers have made it highly likely that immigrants will be detained. Immigrants will continue to migrate to the United States, and if the immigration policies require detention, the government needs to enforce the compliance of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards, especially in private detention centers. Illegal immigration is not to be condoned, but immigrants still retain the human right to be treated with dignity, free from sexual violence. There are three different types of immigration detention facilities, but the ones owned by private government contractors do not have to comply with the PREA standards. Instead, PREA regulations are only imposed on these private facilities as their contracts are renewed or modified, leaving detainees exposed to sexual assault and abuse. Yet, the purpose behind PREA is to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse and assault in DHS facilities. PREA implements a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse. This Comment addresses the privatization of immigration detention centers, examines current law which enables detention and the poor execution of regulations preventing sexual assault and abuse and proposes several recommendations. Shutting down privately-run immigration detention centers is the first and most important recommendation but unfortunately, it is far-fetched. Realistically, PREA regulations should not be phased in through contract modification, renewals, or new contracts. Before the opening of any privately-run detention center, PREA regulations should already be implemented, complied with and enforced. DHS has also created its own PREA standards, and they should be implemented throughout all immigration facilities. While in detention, immigrants should be protected from further abuse like the abuse they flee from in their home countries. Their abusers should be held accountable, even if that means a reduction of the privatization of immigration detention centers.

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The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice

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St. Mary's University School of Law



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