Now at #remezcla: For Trans Immigrants, the Road to Asylum is Filled with Abuse and Frustration
S.A.C. knew of the anti-discrimination laws for LGBT individuals in the United States, but felt she could find safety away from corrupt Guatemalan police and drug cartels who targeted her for her gender identity. “I wanted to change my body and marry someday,” she tells me in an email interview facilitated by her lawyers.
A Guatemalan drug cartel beat and threatened S.A.C. with death when she refused to collect extortion money, according to her legal team at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s new Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) – which provides pro bono representation to detained immigrants in southeastern states. In a SPLC press release, the organization said Guatemalan police raped and tortured her, and coworkers sent her death threats because of her gender identity.
She fled Guatemala in October 2016 and turned herself in to US Border Patrol agents upon crossing the border in early December. Officials placed her at the Stewart Detention Center – an immigration center for men in Lumpkin, Georgia, which advocates say has a reputation of treating detainees poorly.
Living under these harsh conditions came after a lifetime of enduring humiliation and bigotry in Guatemala.
While at Stewart Detention Center, she once again withstood intolerance and prejudice “I told (one of the managers) my preferred female name, and she told me that I am not a woman,” S.A.C. explains. “I was sent to solitary because they said I was crazy.” A psychologist determined she was mentally fit and sent her back to the general population at the detention center within a day. She began focusing on her asylum case.
About the photo: Immigrants sit in their housing cell in the women's wing of the detention facility for illegal immigrants on July 30, 2010 in Eloy, Arizona. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images News
#transgender #transgenderrights #immigrantrights #southernpovertylawcenter #stewartdetentioncenter #latinx #ice Link in bio.