Thursday, June 25, 2015
News articles with variations of the headline,,“Obama shushes heckler: ‘You are in my house!” pervaded almost every search engine I opened Wednesday. An intriguing headline and a constant reminder, how could I resist? It turns out the “heckler” was a transgender LGBT activist advocating rights for the LGBT immigrant community. What sort of rights would she be advocating, I wondered? What I discovered was heartbreaking indeed.
The United States of America prides itself on being called “the land of opportunity”, “land of the free and the home of the brave,” as well as various other nicknames. Immigrants flock to the shores of our nation with dreams of grasping some of that freedom and opportunity. Transgender immigrants arrive at our shores with no different aspirations, but are met with a whole different set of difficulties. Fusion, a multi-platform media company, conducted a six-month investigation of the atrocities committed by ICE, some of which I will described below.
ICE detains asylum seekers that are not admitted right away. This can pose a dangerous situation for transgender men and women who are often detained in centers based on their sex, rather than gender. Of the detained transgender immigrant population, 90% are transgender women. Despite their gender identity, they are nevertheless, often detained based their sex. One immigrant recalls that for her male inmates, she was the “closest thing they [had] to a woman.” It takes very little imagination to envision what was the horrific reality for this woman and many others like her. Some detention centers will try to remedy this problem by placing the victim in solitary confinement. Yet this is another type of torture that one victim even requested deportation rather than remain in the confinement.
This brief summary does the investigation no justice. The report, which can be found here, provides an insight into this problem that most of the American population cannot even begin to imagine. It is no wonder the activist tried to bring this problem straight to our commander-in-chief.
Vicky Yau is a second year law student at UC Davis School of Law and will be blogging regularly on the ImmigrationProf blog this summer.