The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) undocumented community in the U.S. continues to suffer from the expanded criminalization, incarceration, and withdrawal of rights resulting from dragnet policing and immigration enforcement policies. Further, we continue to be a negotiating piece for mainstream immigrant rights and LGBTQ organizations, and our lives are not to be negotiated.
April 5, 2014 marked a record of two million deportations under the Obama Administration. We know too well that the U.S immigration system profits off of our detention, with the current immigration bed quota of at least 34,000. Deportation is not the answer when there are 82 countries that make it a crime to be LGBTQ. Often, LGBTQ immigrants come to the U.S. seeking a safe haven from structural violence, criminalization, persecution and discrimination in their home countries. Others have grown up in the U.S. and live with ongoing fear of deportation and family separation as a result of our unresolved immigration status. Many do not qualify under the current deferred action programs (i.e., DACA, DAPA) due to the criminalization we experience as marginalized members of society pushed into survival work.
This violence, persecution and discrimination is not only happening in our everyday lives but also following many of our community members to the inside of Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and Department Of Homeland Security (DHS) detention facilities. LGBTQ immigrants are often placed in detention facilities that misgender them, allow/foster physical and sexual abuse, and ignore verbal and physical harassment from both other detainees and detention guards. Such is the case for Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco, a transgender woman from Guatemala, who until yesterday was being detained in the all-male wing of ICE’s Florence Service Processing Detention facility in Florence, Arizona. Nicoll was patted down 6-8 times a day by male guards, who Nicoll reported would grope her breasts and buttocks, make offensive sexual comments and gestures, and sometimes pull her hair. In addition to physically harassing Nicoll, ICE staff routinely verbally abused her. She was called “stupid” and “the woman with balls” in front of other detained immigrants. ICE and DHS are incapable of protecting our LGBTQ community from this abuse. Detention centers are not the answer; no matter what policy is enforced or what alternatives are set in place, detention will never be the solution for our community. Detention is inhumane no matter what form it takes!
Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, CA Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), GetEQUAL, Juntos, Orange County Immigrant Youth United (OCIYU), Arizona-Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (AZ-QUIP), Arcoiris Liberation Team, the Transgender Law Center (TLC), and the TransLatin@ Coalition are demanding that ICE and DHS immediately release all LGBTQ-identified individuals in detention centers, halt deportations of all LGBTQ-identified individuals, and immediately provide relief for the LGBTQ undocumented community. As grassroots organizations we will continue to fight until all our demands are met and all of our migrant community is free. This is why we as the #Not1More LGBTQ Detention & Deportation Campaign commit to demanding full liberation without compromising our basic human rights. When we say #NOT1MORE DEPORTATION, we mean #NOT1MORE DEPORTATION!