Fox hosts criticized an announcement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to open a detention center equipped to house transgender individuals, asking whether “catering to illegal transgenders” is “even necessary.” In fact, there is documented evidence of high rates of sexual assault and abuse that transgender women face while detained at ICE facilities.
Fox’s Earhardt On ICE Detention Center With Adequate Facilities For Transgender Detainees: “Is There Even A Need?”
Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt Asks “Why Do We See The Need" For ICE To Have Adequate Detention Facilities For Transgender Detainees. Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt bemoaned the fiscal cost of an announced Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility that will include a unit to adequately house transgender detainees, saying, “we’re spending a lot of money to house these illegal immigrants” and asking whether there is “even a need” to provide specialized care for transgender detainees. From the May 25 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends (emphasis added):
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Alright, more than $100 billion a year are spent to house and feed illegal immigrants.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): But it doesn't end there. ICE is now opening a new 36 bed detention center in the state of Texas, catering to illegal transgenders. Your money will even pay for their clothes to match their chosen identity.
KILMEADE: Alright, here to weigh in is psychologist and behavioral expert Dr. Gina Loudon. Dr. Loudon, what's behind this, and are you stunned that we seem to be drilling down and allocating money for something that seems so small?
DR. GINA LOUDON: I absolutely am, I think this is a solution in search of a problem. I think that this is something that probably isn't really happening a whole lot. There aren't a lot of people held for no reason for any period of time anymore. They’re pretty much held, processed, and let go. I think this is another way to probably facilitate that process for people who want to all the sudden claim that they are having some sort of gender confusion, while maybe we should be focused on the people who really are held for a long time, which means, if you are held for a long time these days, that probably means you’re a criminal and that probably means there's a crime somewhere.
EARHARDT: Why do this? Because I know we’re spending a lot of money to house these illegal immigrants. So why do we see the need? Or is there even a need?
LOUDON: I really don't think there is a need. We have really big problems right now, and this is another one of those things. This is -- I've always said, Ainsley, that I don't think there really is such a thing as a social issue because every social issue has a great big, hefty price tag attached to it and suddenly becomes a fiscal issue if you take a hard look at it. And this is another one of those things that's going to cost people a lot of money and going to, you know, the taxpayers will ultimately foot the bill, even though some of these are private facilitates, it will be the taxpayers that pay for it. And, ultimately, it isn’t going to help any of the problems that we see going on with our current illegal immigration problem. Maybe what we should do is think more about the kinds of things that Mr. Trump is saying, like just, you know, get the wall built, get the system -- make the system better, and solve our illegal immigration problem.
KILMEADE: So, people who come here illegally, for whatever the reason, we're bending over backwards, as they violate the law, to make sure they are treated in a way in which is going to cost the taxpayer money we just don't have, with $19 trillion in debt. So you’re talking about, for the legitimate population, people who are here legally, .03 percent of the population. Now schools have to adjust to this. Now illegal immigration detention centers have to adjust to this. In the big picture, what are we trying to say as a society? Put this in perspective in the big picture.
LOUDON: Yeah, I mean, that's the part that's so upsetting is that we do have a whole lot of problems we need to solve and a whole lot of things do need our attention and our money and our best creative mind going into them. And as you said, this is such a minute minority of the population. And then again, you create problems when you do this. You really don't even help the populations you intend to help because you have people say all the sudden, for example, a great big man says he all the sudden has gender identity confusion, and you put him in a holding facility, if you will, with some weaker people, and you all the sudden have all sorts of confusion to where it comes to a place where you have to almost just put everyone in one big holding cell. And we know that's going to create more problems for the very people we're saying we're trying to help. So again this is creating problems. This is creating more victimhood, and this problem is insidious in our culture right now. And they’re not going to stop. This is really more about a political agenda than it is about helping anyone. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/25/16]
Transgender Detainees Face Human Rights Abuses At Detention Centers
Human Rights Watch Report Finds Transgender Women Are Abused In ICE Detention Centers. According to a March 2016 report by Human Rights Watch, transgender detainees routinely suffer human rights abuses in ICE detention centers. The report documented 28 cases of transgender women who had experienced abuse, including repeated sexual assaults, harassment from both detainees and guards, unwarranted strip searches, and extended stays in solitary confinement cells -- “the same kinds of abuses that drive many transgender women to flee their home countries in the first place.” According to the accompanying press release to the March 2016 report (emphasis added):
The 68-page report, “‘Do You See How Much I’m Suffering Here?’: Abuse against Transgender Women in US Immigration Detention,” documents 28 cases of transgender women who were held in US immigration detention between 2011 and 2015. More than half of the transgender women Human Rights Watch interviewed were held in men’s facilities at some point. Half also spent time in solitary confinement, in many cases allegedly for their protection. But solitary confinement is a form of abuse in and of itself, and many who had spent time there experienced trauma and profound psychological distress.
“Many trans women arrive in the US seeking protection from violent abuse in their home countries,” said Adam Frankel, coordinator in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights program at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Instead, they face further mistreatment under detention policies that put them needlessly at risk of violence and abuse.”
Until recently, transgender women in immigration detention were routinely held in men’s detention facilities, where many have been sexually assaulted and frequently harassed by male detainees and guards – the same kinds of abuses that drive many transgender women to flee their home countries in the first place. These women said that they were forced to sleep and shower in the same communal areas as dozens of men, and that guards often refused to protect them and stood idly by without intervening when they were abused. [Human Rights Watch, March 2016]
ICE Has Issued Guidance On “The Placement And Care Of Transgender Adult Detainees.” ICE released a set of guidelines on June 19 to complement existing Homeland Security protocols, intended to prevent sexual abuse and assault of transgender individuals in detention centers. The memo requires that “When a detainee identifies as transgender, ERO [Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations] shall make individualized placement determinations to ensure the detainee’s safety.” [Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 6/19/15]