Congress Must Take Action to Protect Trans Migrants | National Center for Transgender Equality

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Congress Must Take Action to Protect Trans Migrants

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The Trump administration is determined to do all it can to worsen the lives of migrants and asylum seekers, putting transgender migrants increasingly at risk for violence and abuse.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security began implementing a rule that will deny citizenship to prospective immigrants in need of help to obtain necessities like food, housing, or medical care.The administration continues to enforce a policy trapping asylum seekers in Mexico, where transgender migrants in particular are at an extreme risk of violence. Even for those who are allowed into the country, transgender detainees in the custody of CPB and ICE have reported severe rates of medical neglect, physical abuse, and sexual violence.

It's why we and a coalition of civil rights and immigration groups joined in our support for the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, a federal measure that would protect LGBTQ people from arbitrary detention and violence within facilities and ensure their right to seek protection within the United States. As our message of support reads:

In 2018, Roxsana Hernandez fled to the U.S. from Honduras. As a transgender woman with HIV, Roxsana faced severe threats of violence and persecution in her home country. However, Roxsana did not escape such abuse upon arriving to the U.S. While detained at the border, Roxsana suffered abuse and mistreatment and died from dehydration and complications related to HIV only weeks after arriving. Roxsana is not alone. Johana Medina Leon, a 25-year-old trans woman from El Salvador entered US custody on April 1. Despite seeking safety, she was denied medical care and died seven weeks after being detained. 

LGBTQ people are more likely to be and remain detained, regardless of their flight risk or public safety risk. A 2016 Freedom of Information Act request from the Center for American Progress found that DHS detained 88 percent of LGBTQ immigrants who were eligible for release and not subject to mandatory detention, despite expressing fear of being targeted by other detainees and staff members because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This fear is well-founded. LGBTQ people in detention are 97 times more likely to report being sexually victimized than non-LGBTQ people.

We need Congress to act to protect the rights and lives of migrants like Alejandra, a transgender woman from El Salvador who was targeted for her advocacy for transgender women in her country. Despite entering the United States as a legal asylum seeker, she has been in held in detention for the last 18 months with advocates increasingly concerned about her health and well-being.

Help us protect transgender migrants like Alejandra by calling your member of Congress now at (202) 224-3121 and telling them why they should support the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act. 

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