SPECIAL REPORT: Hate Crimes in Detention


hate crimes 

Under the Trump administration, there has been a documented increase in incidents of hate and bias. Generally, these incidents of hate and bias are motivated by perceived race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and frequently involve violence.

Against this backdrop, Freedom for Immigrants has been documenting abuses motivated by hate and bias in U.S. immigration detention.  

According to the results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with ICE, 85 complaints related to discrimination were filed between February 2010 and August 2017. The overwhelming majority of these complaints describe incidents that would be categorized as abuses motivated by hate and bias.


A. Abuses motivated by hate and bias toward perceived race, ethnicity, or nationality


One individual in the South Texas Detention Facility in Pearsall, TX, reported being called a “monkey” by a GEO guard before being taken to solitary confinement. Due to the prejudiced treatment that this person suffered, he believes that he was targeted for segregation due to his race.


In a similarly disturbing incident, a man was told to “look in the mirror to see King Kong” by a CCA guard (Pinal County Jail in Florence, AZ).


A group of people in Brooks County Detention Center in Falfurrias, TX, reported that their food was thrown on the floor every time GEO guards heard them speaking in Spanish.

B. Abuses Motivated by Hate and Bias Toward Perceived Religion


Four complaints state that people have been punished for freely exercising their religion. Such was the case of a person who was sent to segregation for leaving his bunk to pray at the Kenosha County Jail in Kenosha, WI.


An individual jailed at Allegany County Jail in Pittsburgh, PA, reports that officers would antagonize people in detention that practice Islam and make “jokes” about their Muslim religion.


GEO officers at Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, FL, forced a woman to take off her hijab against her will in front of male officers and refused to return it until her husband formally complained.