Texas immigration facility to house transgender detainees

DALLAS (AP) — Federal immigration officials will soon open a new detention facility southwest of Dallas that includes a special unit for transgender detainees.

The facility under construction in Alvarado, Texas, will include 36 beds for transgender people. Officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday that the facility is expected to open in November.

The Texas facility would be the second federal unit dedicated to housing transgender detainees. The other, in Santa Ana, California, houses about 30 transgender people.

Advocates say transgender immigrants often face challenges in detention facilities such as higher rates of sexual assault, an inability to get hormone replacement treatments and guards unfamiliar with gender identity issues.

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Federal guidelines instruct detention staff to ask incoming detainees about their chosen gender identity and make accommodations based on their preference.