Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco, a young Guatemalan trans woman who has been the center of a lengthy national campaign under the banner of #FreeNicoll, was finally granted asylum and released from immigration detention yesterday on April 22, 2015. After surviving years of persecution and violence in Guatemala and Mexico, Immigration & Customs Enforcement then subjected her to sexual and emotional abuse for six months in the all-male Florence, AZ detention center. She is now living in safety with her community in Tucson, AZ, which had always been the goal of the #FreeNicoll campaign.
The transgender and queer migrant community of Arizona and the nation celebrates Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco’s release. This victory was won by tireless hours of work from community members and Nicoll’s legal team. The #FreeNicoll campaign involved Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Arcoíris Liberation Team, Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, Transgender Law Center, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and many others. Nicoll is ecstatic to be free and excited for the support she received.
Today Nicoll is free and her community marches for an ICE Free Arizona on the anniversary of the infamous anti-immigrant law SB1070 demanding that ICE and DHS immediately halt all detention and deportation of LGBTQ immigrants. Unfortunately, Nicoll’s experience is all too typical. While trans women make up only 1 out of every 500 people detained by ICE, they are a shocking 1 out of every 5 substantiated cases of sexual assault in detention. ICE has demonstrated over and over that they are incapable of detaining LGBTQ immigrants with even minimal levels of dignity and safety. As Nicoll states “LGBTQ people deserve respect and do not belong in ICE detention.”
Who: Trans and queer migrant leaders: Mariposas Sin Fronteras, AZ QUIP, Arcoíris Liberation Team, Transgender Law Center, and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
What: March on Arizona Capitol with banner and speakers to celebrate #FreeNicoll and demand #LiberationNotDeportation
Where: The horse statue at the capitol
When: 3pm Arizona MST April 23 2015