Any Immigration Reform Needs to Address This

[Content Note: Anti-immigrationism; sexual assault; transphobia.]

I just coincidentally read these two stories back-to-back:

1. "Hillary Rodham Clinton to call for path to citizenship for immigrants."
During a campaign visit to Nevada today, Hillary Rodham Clinton will call for a "full and equal path to citizenship" for immigrants living in the country illegally, drawing a clear distinction from Republican candidates on the issue, a campaign official said.

Many students at the school where Clinton is scheduled to speak today would be eligible for citizenship under the Dream Act, a congressional proposal that has been blocked by Republican lawmakers. The candidate will pledge to carry on the fight. She will characterize GOP alternatives as inadequate proposals that would give "second-class" status to immigrants who have been contributing to the economy for years.

A push for a comprehensive fix to the country's immigration system will be a cornerstone of the Clinton campaign, the official said. Clinton's announcement Tuesday is expected to be followed later in the campaign with a detailed policy proposal that lays out the path to citizenship, as well as plans for shoring up security at the border.
2. "'Disturbing' sex abuse within agency that patrols U.S. border, says former top official."
A CBS News investigation has found sexual misconduct in the ranks of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is "significantly" higher than other federal law enforcement agencies, according to the agency's former head of internal affairs.

...For eight years James Tomsheck handled sexual misconduct investigations as the Chief of Internal Affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. What he saw, he says, disturbed him.

Between 2012 and 2014, he found there was a "spike" of more than 35 sexual misconduct cases against agents, a rate he says was significantly higher than other law enforcement agencies.

"A problem that I believed was a significant and serious problem was perhaps even worse than I thought it was," said Tomsheck.

Last April Tomsheck emailed his boss, the head of the agency, Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, about the "disturbing" and "disproportionate" number of cases "in the agency's workforce."

Tomsheck says he didn't receive a response.

A CBS News investigation found in the last six years, at least 21 customs or border patrol agents have been indicted or pleaded guilty to sexual offenses -- both on and off duty -- ranging from sexual assault, to possession of child pornography and child molestation. Five agents were arrested in the past year.

Tomsheck says some of the people involved in the cases he found had the potential of being serial offenders.

"I believe they were persons who had likely offended before but their acts have gone undetected," said Tomsheck.
Transgender women are particularly targeted for abuse at the southern border: They are often housed with men, placing them at increased risk for sexual assault. Cis women and all children are also targeted, by border guards and staff at detention centers. Further, undocumented migrants who are assaulted are routinely denied access to abortion and emergency contraception.

Immigration reform, including a path to citizenship (which, ideally, would simply be amnesty), is important and necessary, but it must include a plan to meaningfully address the sexual abuse and reproductive coercion of migrants by border agents, detention staff, and private entities with government contacts to work with undocumented immigrants.

It is deeply irresponsible to propose "shoring up security at the border" without any safeguards to ensure that more security doesn't simply translate into more abuse. So I sure hope that Clinton's team is centering this issue as they develop her immigration policy.

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