(Texas) – Last week, Transgender Law Center (TLC), the largest trans-led organization in the country, filed a brief appealing the U.S. government’s order of removal for Marianna, a transgender woman who emigrated from Mexico almost 20 years ago. Despite telling the immigration judge in her case that she feared for her life should she be forced to return to Mexico, Marianna was not informed of her right to apply for asylum – violating her due process.

“When a transgender woman tells a judge that she might be killed if she is deported, it is unconscionable and illegal for that judge to ignore her plea and deny her the opportunity to apply for asylum,” said Flor Bermudez, legal director at Transgender Law Center. “Rape, abuse, and lethal violence is unfortunately the reality for many transgender women in Mexico. Immigration judges must start taking these threats, and the lives of transgender women, seriously.”

Transgender Law Center and the Cornell Law School LGBT Clinic issued a report last year detailing the pervasive human rights violations faced by transgender women in Mexico. The report documents at least 120 transphobic murders, including the murders of prominent transgender advocates, between 2010 and 2016.

“I feel an immense fear of returning to Mexico,” said Marianna. “I will be killed if I return, and I would love more than anything if God allowed me to stay in this country with my family.”

Marianna, a 49-year-old transgender woman who has been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. since 1989, has been held in immigration detention for the past nine months. Discrimination and the common policing and criminalization of transgender people in the U.S. has shaped her experience over the past 20 years, which includes several criminal convictions. She was illegally arrested for prostitution a number of times, with no explanation given except for her appearance as a transgender woman who was “dressed sexily.”

The brief filed last week with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), embedded below, argues that the judge’s failure to initiate asylum proceedings once Marianna expressed fear of persecution violated her right to due process. Marianna’s lawyers are asking the BIA to remand Marianna’s case to allow her to apply for asylum.

Transgender immigrants seeking legal support can reach out to TLC’s Trans Immigrant Defense Effort (TIDE) at transgenderlawcenter.org/programs/TIDE. Transgender Law Center launched TIDE in January of this year, in preparation for the increased targeting of transgender immigrants under the new White House administration.

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Transgender Law Center is the largest national organization dedicated to advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people through litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. TLC works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. www.transgenderlawcenter.org

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