Image description: Lynly and Chin smiling at the foot of the escalators at the airport

Last night, Chin Tsui returned home to New York after spending over two years in immigration prison, including nineteen months in solitary confinement. Transgender Law Center (TLC) and the Law Offices of Earnest Bailey won the case to terminate Chin’s immigration proceedings last month, but the government refused to release him immediately.

“Thank you so much to TLC, to Mr. Bailey, and to all of the people who have supported me,” said Chin. “I’m finally home.”

In December, TLC launched the #BringChinHome campaign and thousands signed a petition asking the government to reconsider his case based on the fact that he was a survivor of human trafficking. Unfortunately, LGBTQ people are rarely screened for human trafficking. Chin had previously lost his cancellation of removal case and was at risk of being deported because of convictions that were a result of being forced to engage in illegal activity.

Several legislators, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, advocated strongly for Chin’s release. TLC won his case in February, but the government threatened to appeal, showing the extent to which they’re willing to target a survivor of human trafficking. This weekend, Governor Cuomo pardoned the conviction that Nassau County had vacated in December, clearing the path for Chin’s return home and approval for Chin’s release came on Tuesday.

“I am thrilled for Chin, who is finally at home with his family where he belongs,” said Lynly Egyes, Legal Director at Transgender Law Center. “This victory is fuel for our campaign as we continue to fight to shut down immigration prisons and advocate for the release of all LGBTQ migrants and people living with HIV.”

Chin’s experiences at Irwin County Detention Center were documented in a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The complaint featured his testimony and that of 18 other LGBTQ migrants and people living with HIV who had experienced medical neglect at eight different immigration prisons.