April 29, 2014
April 29, 2014 – Today, LGBT immigrant activists, led by Immigration Equality, hosted a press conference and action in front of the White House. They urged President Obama to end deportations and to provide immediate relief to immigrant families. The event known as ‘#Not1More Queer & Trans Person #Deported2Death’ was organized by Immigration Equality, alongside the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) and DRM Action Coalition and Southerners on New Ground (SONG).
Fernanda Vallejos, one of hundreds of clients that Immigration Equality is currently serving through its pro bono asylum program, courageously told her story of struggle and survival at today’s press conference. As a transgender woman, born in Honduras, she has suffered unimaginable and unrelenting violence.
“In Honduras, transphobic community members raped and beat me on account of my gender identity,” Fernanda said. “Because I am transgender, police in Honduras were unwilling to protect me from my attackers.” Fearing for her life, Fernanda fled from her home and the activist work she loved. “I came to the United States because I heard that transgender people could live openly without fear of violence,” Fernanda said. However, rather than welcoming her, the Department of Homeland Security placed Fernanda in immigration detention, housing her in a male facility where she was locked-up in solitary confinement for her own “protection.” Her future in the United States is still uncertain.
According to Trina Olson, Interim Executive Director of Immigration Equality, LGBT immigrants like Fernanda are at risk of being deported to countries where they will once again be beaten, raped or killed. “Fernanda’s story is only one of so many that exemplify how high the stakes are for LGBT immigrants seeking safety in the U.S. For LGBT immigrants, deportation can truly be a death sentence,” Olson says. “We urge President Obama to use his authority to stop the deportation of vulnerable LGBT immigrants.”
For more information about Immigration Equality’s work, please visit our website at www.ImmigrationEquality.org.
Since 1994, Immigration Equality has been representing LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers, detainees, and binational couples, who are fighting for safety, fair treatment, and freedom. Immigration Equality represents people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status. Our team of legal experts has won asylum for nearly 600 LGBT and HIV-positive individuals.