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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Trump Administration Continues to Endanger Lives of Trans Migrants

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As many Americans remain horrified by the conditions of detention centers managed by our own Department of Homeland Security, we're learning more about the experiences of transgender people fleeing violence in Central American only to be treated as criminals when they come to the United States.

In a letter acquired by Trans Queer Pueblo, 29 transgender detainees held at an ICE detention center in New Mexico relate inhumane conditions. According to Trans Queer Pueblo, many of these women have been physically and sexually assaulted, denied food and medicine, and forced to pose for the cameras to mislead members of the media.

These details come after the deaths of two transgender women while under ICE's custody or shortly after leaving it. Roxsana Hernandez died in May of 2018 from complications related to her HIV diagnosis after being locked in so-called "iceboxes" that subject detainees to dangerously low temperatures. Johana Medina Leon died shortly after leaving ICE custody on the first day of Pride month this year. Overall, 24 migrants have died in ICE custody since Donald Trump took office—including five children. 

Many transgender women in ICE's custody arrived in the United States after fleeing life-threatening persecution in Central America, the region of origin for many migrants like Roxsana, Johana, and the authors of that letter. As quoted by Buzzfeed, Roxsana Hernandez was initially fleeing her native Honduras after being raped. “Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces,” she said. “They kill trans people in Honduras. I’m scared of that.” 
 
On Tuesday, the Trump administration enacted a policy that would effectively ban any migrant from legally seeking asylum in the United States. The inhumanity of that policy is only worsened as increasing numbers of transgender people in Honduras are subjected to extreme violence.
 
We at NCTE joined a coalition of civil rights organizations condemning the mistreatment, abuse, and lack of due process afforded to legal asylum seekers by this administration and its overall failure to comply with international law. As the letter notes, the matter must compel Congress to provide immediate oversight, transparency, and accountability to this administration's abject failure to treat migrants with the dignity and humanity called for by law and human decency:
 
Historically, the U.S. Supreme Court has deferred to Congress in determining applicability of constitutional protections in the realm of immigration law. What is clear is that Congress has collectively failed to provide the necessary legal framework and oversight to ensure detained migrants are treated with dignity and respect and are provided a fair opportunity to have their cases heard...
 
...The undersigned organizations call upon Congress to take necessary steps to obtain full information about how this Administration’s immigration enforcement and detention policies are being implemented, including conducting hearings and mandating regular reporting from the Administration regarding key aspects of these policies.  
 
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