Questions Remain: Investigation Into Sexual Abuse at the Karnes Family Detention Center

“This case is about what's hidden from view. It's about what goes on in ICE's for-profit prisons for mothers and their children when the captors believe nobody's watching."


On August 14, 2015, RAICES, through its attorney Andrew Free, filed a federal lawsuit seeking documents from a long-standing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The documents requested are schematics and maps of the laundry room inside the Karnes Family Detention Center, where women reported sexual abuse by guards took place. A map of the laundry room will show that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) could not have properly investigated the claims as a "blind spot" exists in that room and that there is no security footage covering that area. Click to view the lawsuit.

Video of the laundry room ("day room") made available by ICE clearly shows the existence of the wall. Click to see video.

Background Information

On September 30, 2014, attorneys from MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), the Immigration Rights and Civil Rights Clinics at the University of Texas Law School, Human Rights First, and the Law Office of Javier N. Maldonado, filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) demanding the immediate investigation of and swift response to widespread allegations of sexual abuse and harassment at the detention center in Karnes City. Click to view complaint.

In response to these allegations, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted an investigation and, on January 7, 2015, reported that they “found no evidence to substantiate the allegations...” In their findings the OIG stated that they had in fact viewed “time lapsed surveillance video footage of the laundry room.” Click to view OIG findings.

On April 22, 2015, ICE acknowledged receipt of RAICES' FOIA request and stated that records would be made available by May 22, 2015. Page 5 of Federal Complaint filed August 14, 2015.

To date, ICE has failed to respond to our request for documents. A map of the laundry room at Karnes would show glaring "blind spot" in the investigation into sexual abuse by guards at the Karnes Family Detention Center.

Sign the Petition:

"We, the undersigned, ask that ICE immediately make available all of the documents requested by RAICES. The women who were victims of abuse at Karnes deserve a fair investigation; we ask that you immediately release these documents!"