Please note: This post contains descriptions of extreme sexual and physical violence.
My name is Stéfanie, and I’m a staff attorney at Immigration Equality. I want to tell you about my client, Yasmin, a trans woman living with HIV from Mexico. Her story is difficult to hear, but I’m sharing it with you because she doesn’t want to wait another day to break her silence.
The morning after Yasmin hosted a drag fundraiser for a child with leukemia, she was kidnapped by three cartel members in Mexico. Over the next three months, the men tied Yasmin to a chair, beat her, and raped her repeatedly—all while berating her with homophobic slurs.
After she managed to escape, she learned that she contracted HIV from her rapists, and the physical trauma from her sexual assault was so severe that she needed reconstructive surgery. When Yasmin reported the kidnapping to the police, her house was ransacked. Fearing for her life, she applied for asylum in the U.S.
I wish I could tell you that the U.S. welcomed her with open arms, but at the border, agents confiscated her HIV medication. Then they kept her in a freezing room for nine days. Despite Yasmin’s repeated requests for medical help, authorities refused to let her see a doctor. She went without HIV care for a month, which put her life in grave danger. And despite requesting treatment for the wounds from her sexual assault, she was ignored.
After six months in ICE custody, Yasmin now lives in New York, where she is finally receiving desperately needed medical care. I have the pleasure of seeing her every week as we work together to win her asylum case
She says, “I would like a chance to live my life as I have always wanted to—free. I would like to be free to be a woman, free from abuse and persecution, and free to live safely.”
No one should be persecuted for who they are, and no one should be punished for trying to escape horrific violence. Immigration Equality is committed to fighting for Yasmin and everyone in her situation. Please give now to defend the rights of LGBTQ and HIV-positive asylum seekers in detention.
Immigration Equality Staff Attorney