Victim of Sexual Abuse at Hutto Detention Center Forced Into Solitary Confinement, ICE Demands Laura Recant Testimony

February 13, 2018

WHAT: Visitors line up to show support for Laura Monterrosa at Hutto Detention Center
WHEN:  Wednesday, February 14 at 11 AM
WHERE: Hutto Detention Center, 1001 Welch Street, Taylor, TX 76574

TAYLOR, Texas — Survivor of sexual assault Laura Monterrosa was locked in solitary confinement for 60 hours in Hutto Detention Center this weekend as an act of retaliation by ICE. From approximately 11 PM on Friday night to 11 AM Monday morning, Laura was told she would not be released from solitary confinement until she publicly stated that she had not been sexually abused.

“This should not be happening in America. Here you have a woman who came forward to report rampant sexual abuse inside of a federal facility. Instead of protecting her, and ensuring the abuse stops, ICE is now putting Laura in solitary confinement with the expressed intent of tearing her down so she will do as they say. This is against the law. There is an ongoing FBI investigation and ICE is trying to convince this witness to change her story.” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership. “This is one of the most egregious abuses I have ever witnessed.”

Laura, an asylum seeker from El Salvador, came forward publicly on November 9 to speak out about the sexual abuse she experienced by a CoreCivic guard. Since then, she has received international media coverage with over 50 published articles. In December, the FBI took over Laura’s investigation from ICE and interviewed Monterrosa in the detention center last week.

Over the past four months, community advocates have witnessed ICE and CoreCivic’s retaliation tactics against Laura escalate from verbal aggression to threats of administrative discipline and indefinite periods of confinement. On Monday, ICE officials attempted to silence Laura by terrorizing her with threats of continuous isolation.

“One ICE Official named Soto specifically demanded Laura call me and tell me she was no longer going to work with us. The ICE official went as far as telling her that he expected her to recant her claim to the media, or else she would be locked up again in solitary confinement indefinitely,” said Bethany Carson, immigration researcher and organizer with Grassroots Leadership.

Advocates are calling on the Taylor Police Department to investigate ICE’s intimidation of Laura. “While Laura’s investigation is pending with the FBI, we are asking the Taylor Police Department to do everything in their power to investigate ICE for the witness tampering and obstruction of justice as ICE violates Laura’s civil rights,” Carson stated.

Community members will line up at the detention center on Wednesday morning to visit with Laura. “ICE may think they can act with impunity,” Muñoz concluded. “Starting tomorrow we are going to show them just how many people actually do care about her, and will do everything they can to see that she is freed.”

                                                                  # # #

Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past.

Contact: 

Bethany Carson, bcarson@grassrootsleadership.org, 512-499-8111