By Fernanda Santos | January 10, 2017
PHOENIX — Nina Chaubal and her wife, Greta Martela, thought about going through the Rocky Mountains on their way to Chicago from San Diego late last month, but did not want to risk getting caught in a snowstorm. So they drove south through Arizona, where Ms. Chaubal, an Indian national with an invalid work visa, fell into the hands of the Border Patrol.
Ms. Chaubal, 25, was not worried about deportation when she arrived at the Eloy Detention Center, a privately run immigration jail 80 miles southeast of Phoenix and several hours away from the Border Patrol checkpoint where she had been stopped.
But as a transgender woman, she said she was afraid of what could happen to her while in custody.
She and Ms. Martela, who is also transgender, had heard enough stories to have reason for concern — about transgender women kept in isolation or housed in men’s units, where sexual assault is not uncommon and harassment is routine, according to numerous accounts published by Human Rights Watch last year.
As she stepped inside the jail on Dec. 30, Ms. Chaubal said she wondered, “Is this what’s waiting for me?”