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ICE Detained Pregnant Survivor of Sexual Violence in Joe Corley Detention Facility

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 According to an article in the Texas Observer, the alarming trend of ICE detaining pregnant women claimed national attention when seven human rights organizations filed a complaint for the practice in September (see “Pregnant Women Seeking Asylum Detained, Women Miscarried in ICE Facilities").

The report details the stories of ten women, including Carolina Ramirez, a woman who migrated from El Salvador to Texas at age 23. The journey lasted two months, involving sexual assault by the man who brought her to the United States. She arrived carrying his child and was sent to detention at Joe Corley Detention Facility, a private facility operated by GEO Group. There, she experienced isolation from her family in Missouri and began to suffer from major depressive disorder.

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Ramirez petitioned to be released from detention on bond. Instead, she was held in detention for six months. “Advocates say Ramirez’s story is part of a troubling trend of prolonged detention of pregnant women in ICE custody,” Gus Bova writes in the Texas Observer.

An ICE spokesperson said 525 pregnant women have been detained since October of last year, with 33 in detention as of September 13. The Observer estimates that Ramirez’s detention cost U.S. taxpayers about $22,000 in the private facility.

The GEO Group has a long-standing record of human rights abuses within jails, prisons, and detention centers in Texas. The article cites incidents of rape allegations within the Joe Corley Detention Facility from 2015, and the detainee-organized resistance in 2014 when “more than 180 detainees took part in a hunger strike at the facility over poor food and telephone access.”

The Women’s Refugee Commission recently investigated Joe Corley Detention Facility alongside detention facilities across the country. The Texas Observer references their report released in October to show inadequate care for people detained. “In the worst case documented, Joe Corley had one full-time physician and one full-time nurse practitioner for over 1,500 people at the time of our visit,” the report cited.

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