For Immediate Release: February 15, 2023
Contacts: Isabella Beristain, Centro Legal de la Raza | iberistain[@]centrolegal.org | 916-420-1057
Andrea Reyes, Dolores Street Community Services | andrea[@]dscs.org | 415-857-7726
Oren Nimni, Rights Behind Bars | oren[@]rightsbehindbars.org | 202-540-0029
Diana Block, CCWP | diana[@]womenprisoners.org | 415-484-9360
Advocates Urge Agency to Release and Halt Deportations of Six FCI Dublin Survivors
Currently Detained in Tacoma, Washington
OAKLAND, CA – This week, over 120 organizations from across California and the United States sent an open letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) leadership demanding that the agency stop detaining and deporting non-citizens of prison staff sexual abuse. In the letter to Acting Director Tae D. Johnson, Principal Legal Advisor Kerry Doyle, and several other officials, advocacy groups expressed support for non-citizens who were sexually abused by staff at the notorious Federal Correctional Institute at Dublin (FCI Dublin), and those who faced retaliation for reporting misconduct by prison employees. Attorneys and advocates for six FCI Dublin survivors and witnesses who are currently in immigration detention at the Northwest ICE Processing Center (NWIPC) in Tacoma, Washington have submitted formal requests to ICE to release their clients and safeguard them from deportation. ICE has not yet responded.
Over the past several years, a sprawling criminal investigation, multiple Congressional inquiries, and national media reporting have revealed that staff at the federal women’s prison in Dublin, California sexually abused countless people in their custody. Since June 2021, federal prosecutors have indicted five former FCI Dublin employees for sexually abusing incarcerated people. Court records show that a majority of indicted FCI Dublin officials abused immigrant women, and federal investigators have relied on the testimony of dozens of noncitizen victims and witnesses. In December 2022, a jury found former warden Ray Garcia guilty of sexually abusing three incarcerated women, including a woman who testified at trial that she was undocumented and facing deportation. Former guard Enrique Chavez and former Chaplain James Highouse have recently been sentenced to years in prison for raping incarcerated women; victims of both men have already been deported by ICE.
Andrea Reyes, an attorney at Dolores Street Community Services who represents one of the six FCI Dublin survivors currently detained by ICE at NWIPC, stated: “Our message is clear: ICE can and must release the six women at NWIPC who survived staff abuse and retaliation at FCI Dublin, and cease detaining and deporting noncitizen survivors and witnesses of sexual abuse at the hands of federal prison employees.”
The Dublin Prison Solidarity Coalition, a partnership of people currently and formerly at FCI Dublin, have spoken with dozens of people abused at FCI Dublin. Survivors’ stories make clear that staff engaged in heinous misconduct–including sexual harassment, assault, and rape–and specifically targeted noncitizen and non-English speaking women for abuse. The following testimonies provide a look into these horrible acts against humanity:
- T. was repeatedly assaulted by FCI Dublin guards and faced egregious retaliation after she reported her abuse. ICE detained her when she was released from prison, and she’s now at NWIPC facing imminent deportation. She shared: “These guards abused us because we were immigrants. They told us they could do whatever they wanted, because we were going to be deported. They called us racist names, and they yelled at us to ‘go back’ to our countries. They knew what they were doing, and ICE is helping them get away with it.”
- A., who was sexually harassed by a guard at FCI Dublin, and witnessed multiple guards sexually abusing other incarcerated women, is also detained by ICE at NWIPC and facing deportation. She stated: “We are all traumatized from what happened to us at FCI Dublin. Being in detention is only making it worse. We aren’t getting any mental healthcare, and we are separated from our kids and loved ones. We don’t deserve this double punishment. We deserve to be home with our families, and we deserve a chance to heal from what these men did to us.”
- Advocates report that ICE has already deported at least 7 women who were sexually assaulted by FCI Dublin staff. R., who was sexually abused by a guard while incarcerated at FCI Dublin and deported to Mexico following her release from prison, shared: “After I was deported, the officer who abused me followed me to Mexico. He abused me sexually, physically, and psychologically for two years before I was finally able to escape him.” S., who is currently detained by ICE at NWIPC and facing imminent deportation, stated: “I personally know four women who were sexually assaulted by guards at FCI Dublin and were deported. I was abused by a guard, and now I’m facing deportation. I do not want to be next.”
- Advocates also report that at least 15 survivors and witnesses of staff sexual abuse at FCI Dublin are currently in deportation proceedings, including numerous women who have assisted federal investigators. L., who testified at the trial of former warden Garcia, stated: “I was abused by my partner before prison, I was abused by the staff at Dublin, and now I’m being abused by the system. I helped the government win their case, but the government is trying to deport me. I just want to be able to stay here, in my home with my children.”
- At least 8 FCI Dublin survivors and witnesses who are still in BOP custody are the subject of immigration detainers, and face detention and deportation after their sentences are up. C., a survivor who is currently incarcerated at FCI Dublin and is weeks away from her release date, shared: “An ICE officer came to see me a few weeks ago to tell me that they were going to put an immigration hold on me. I told him: I was raped by a federal prison guard, and he was convicted of raping me. The ICE officer told me: ‘That doesn’t matter.’”
Formed in 2021, the Dublin Prison Solidarity Coalition is a partnership of people currently and formerly at FCI Dublin and their supporters. Coalition members include the ACLU of Northern California, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, Centro Legal de la Raza, Dolores Street Community Services, and Rights Behind Bars.