(New York, NY) – Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo granted a rare pardon to Lorena Borjas, a transgender Latina woman and well-known advocate who has helped countless transgender women like herself survive trafficking and other abusive situations. Lorena was at high risk of deportation due to old convictions from when she herself was being trafficked, and this pardon will allow her to pursue immigration relief.
“With this pardon granted, I will no longer have to go to sleep at night, worrying that I will be deported back to a country that is no longer home,” said Lorena. “I will be able to live my life without stress and fear of immigration and I will be able to continue doing the work I do and help more vulnerable transgender women.”
Based in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, Lorena has spent years walking the streets and supporting others to escape abusive situations, providing condoms and food, connecting the trans women she meets to services and support, and even setting up a weekly HIV testing clinic in her own home. Her passion for this work, which she did for many years without pay or institutional support, stems from her own experiences of being trafficked.
“Lorena has done more than anyone else I know to shine a light on the epidemic of trafficking in transgender communities and to help other trans women escape exploitation,” said Lynly Egyes, who represented Lorena and serves as Litigation Director at Transgender Law Center. “Her generosity and self-sacrifice is well known throughout New York State and the country. I am thrilled for Lorena today and grateful that, after her years of selfless work helping others, New York State answered the call when she was in need.”
Although Lorena was recognized as a victim of human trafficking by Honorable Judge Serita from Queens Criminal Court, who acknowledged that all of her convictions are tied to trafficking, only Lorena’s prostitution convictions were vacated under New York’s Vacating Convictions law due to limitations of the law.
With this pardon, Lorena will be safe from deportation and will be able to apply for US Citizenship.
Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation. transgenderlawcenter.org