By Emma Margolin | September 10,2014
For 25-year-old José, deportation wasn’t just a heartbreaking possibility; it was a matter of life and death.
“I personally suffered and was attacked by gang members back in El Salvador, just for being gay,” he told msnbc by phone Tuesday, moments after being closed out of Rep. Bill Cassidy’s D.C. office. The Louisiana Republican, who opposed a comprehensive immigration bill that died in the House last session, was among a handful of lawmakers targeted by about 20 advocates during a protest for reform.
“I literally was going to get killed out there,” said José, who spoke on the condition that he be identified by only his first name. “So I escaped. I went out here to the U.S.”
José lived free from anti-gay persecution for five years in California. But while visiting his partner in 2011, he was arrested at the airport in New Mexico for not having proper immigration documentation, and taken to an ICE detention center in El Paso, Texas. There, he lived for five months with the fear of being ostracized by his fellow inmates, or worse, being sent back to the country where epidemic levels of anti-LGBT violence and harassment went without prosecution.