IN SUPPORT OF THE JAYAPAL AMENDMENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2018

September 7, 2017
Floor Statements

Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of Amendment No. 66, offered by Representative JAYAPAL, to strike the $535 million increase for ICE enforcement and instead add $30 million to ICE's Office of the Inspector General and $10 million to DHS's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. This additional oversight funding would support investigations of sexual assault in immigration detention as mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed in 2003 as a result of a remarkable bipartisan effort led by Congressman Frank Wolf and myself in the House and Senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Kennedy in the Senate.

Ten years after passage of PREA, in 2014, DHS finalized regulations to comply with PREA. This year, 2017, is the first in which DHS is instituting those regulations by auditing its facilities for compliance.

We must aid DHS in its efforts to investigate and prevent sexual abuse. According to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at DHS, during the two-year period from May 2014 to July 2016, it received over 1,000 complaints from detainees reporting sexual abuse or assault. The Office of Inspector General investigated only 24 of those complaints--that is 2.4 percent of the total complaints that were made by detained immigrants.

Immigrant detainees also face barriers to reaching the Inspector General's telephone hotline for reporting abuse, because, according to a 2013 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), approximately 14 percent of calls placed to that hotline did not go through because, for example, the call was not answered.

This Amendment is an essential step to giving DHS resources to comply with PREA and protect immigrants from sexual abuse and assault in detention facilities.