Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed two lawsuits against the U.S. Department Homeland Security (DHS) for failure to respond to its requests for public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The documents relate to the nature of health services and birth control services prescribed and/or provided to female and transgender detainees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) based on revised detention standards published by ICE in 2011 (Judicial Watch v. United States Department of Homeland Security (No. 12-cv-0215 and No. 12-cv-0216)).

 As stated in the ICE document Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011, “upon request, appropriately trained medical personnel within their scope of practice shall provide detainees with non-directive (impartial) advice and consultation about family planning and birth control, and where medically appropriate, prescribe and dispense birth control.”  The revised standards also specify conditions under which “ICE will assume the costs associated with a female detainee’s decision to terminate a pregnancy” in the case of rape or incest.

With regard to transgender detainees, the document notes that those “already receiving hormone therapy when taken into ICE custody shall have continued access to” and shall be provided with “transgender-related health care and medication based on medical need.”

On September 24, 2012, Judicial Watch sent a FOIA request to ICE, which is part of the DHS, seeking access to the following:

  • Any and all records pertaining to family planning or birth control services provided to detainees in ICE’s custody.
  • Any and all records pertaining to the termination of pregnancies by female persons in ICE’s custody, including records concerning transportation arranged for or provided to detainees for the purpose of receiving abortion services and any and all records regarding costs associated with such services.

On the same day, Judicial Watch sent a separate FOIA request to ICE seeking access to any and all records pertaining to hormone therapy and other health care services and medications provided to transgender detainees of ICE, as well the cost of any such services.

In both cases, the records being sought are for Fiscal Year 2011, or from October 1, 2010, through September 30, 2011.  The requests specifically stated that no information was being sought about the identity of any detainee or health care provider.

ICE has acknowledged receipt of both requests. A response regarding Judicial Watch’s request for records related to birth control services was due on November 19, 2012. A response to Judicial Watch’s request for records related to health services for transgender detainees was due on November 6, 2012. To date ICE has failed to respond to either these FOIA requests, prompting Judicial Watch’s lawsuits.

“It will surprise most Americans to know that illegal alien detainees can receive birth control, sex change procedures, and abortions courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This is an embarrassing scandal for the Obama administration, which is why the administration has violated the law in refusing our requests for information.”