For Immediate Release
Contact: Olga Tomchin

115+ LGBTQ, Immigration Organizations Ask President to Release Detained LGBTQ Immigrants

This week, a large coalition of more than 115 LGBTQ, immigrant rights, and allied social justice organizations sent the attached joint letter calling on the White House to immediately act to release LGBTQ people from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities. As recently reported by Fusion and witnessed for years by Transgender Law Center in our work, detained LGBTQ immigrants and especially transgender women continuously experience horrific rates of homophobic and transphobic abuse, sexual violence and rape, torture through solitary confinement, and denial of necessary medical care including life-saving HIV medication. Trans women are the survivors of an astonishing one out of every five substantiated complaints about sexual assault in ICE custody. In light of the President’s recent executive action on immigration which largely excluded LGBTQ immigrants by basing relief from deportation entirely on legally recognized romantic and parental relationships, the White House must act immediately to stop ICE’s violence against our transgender immigrant community members.

Olga Tomchin an Immigrant Detention attorney and Soros Justice Fellow at Transgender Law Center has worked with more than a dozen individual detained transgender immigrants who have all survived unbearable detention conditions. “Many clients have given up on their asylum cases while detained and accepted deportation to their birth countries where they faced extreme violence, rather than continue being abused by ICE.” Tomchin said. “ICE has shown over and over that they are incapable of detaining transgender people with even minimal levels of dignity and safety. Thus the only solution is to release transgender immigrants.”

“I fled Mexico to try to be safe in the United States as a trans woman. However, at the hands of ICE, I experienced constant transphobic harassment and abuse which is still to this day difficult for me to emotionally and mentally overcome. I demand that President Obama act humanely and release all LGBTQ people from immigration detention,” stated former Transgender Law Center client Victoria Villalba.
Former Transgender Law Center client Barbra Perez declared based on her own experiences that “LGBTQ immigrants held in solitary confinement are subject to ridicule and torture. We are systematically broken down by a system trained to demean, exploit, and deport human beings like cattle!”

“The realities that my community faces daily around various forms of violence are constant. ICE is holding trans immigrants under violent conditions and is exposing them to more trauma the longer they keep them. Releasing my community from detention is only the first step towards our collective liberation,” passionately reflected Transgender Law Center Program Manager Isa Noyola. “President Obama could easily stop these terrible abuses at the hands of the federal government by directing DHS to classify LGBTQ immigrants as too vulnerable to detain.” As Transgender Law Center continues to advocate for the rights of immigrants, we invite everyone to join the Not One More Deportation/#Not1More campaign and we affirm our commitment to the broader immigrants rights movement while advancing the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

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