Trans Immigrants Disproportionately Subject to Deportation and Detention, Suffer Special Gender-Related Harms in these Processes

Barriers to Getting any Legal Immigration Status:

  • employment-based immigration not available because of job discrimination
  • family-based immigration not available because trans people’s family members often reject them, trans marriages not seen as valid, chosen and extended family not recognized
  • asylum and other claims often not available because of lack of access to trans-friendly legal help, less connections with immigrant communities to get information combined with strict timelines, bias and harassment from immigration officers

Criminalization of Trans People:

  • most convictions and some arrests can make people deportable, even if they have status
  • trans people falsely arrested for lack of proper identity documents or for using bathroom
  • police profiling of trans people as violent, prostitutes
  • committing survival crimes because lack access to legal employment or education (sex work, drugs, theft, etc)

Trans immigrants likely to be detained and/or deported:

  • trans people disproportionately HIV positive, if from country where no access to HIV meds, deportation is death sentence. also, deportation can lead to serious transphobic violence, persecution, and imprisonment in home country.
  • in detention trans people often isolated and/or targeted for rape, harassment abusive searches and other violence by staff and other detainees. gender misclassified based on genitals in sex segregated system
  • can’t access hormones and other medical treatments while detained. forced to change gendered characteristics of appearance (cut hair, give up prosthetics, etc.). results in mental anguish and increased violence because appearance may conform even less to gender identity. 

infograph via the Sylvia Rivera Law Project 212.337.8550

pdf version of above chart available here:


Immigrant youth, families & community members, including activists from the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, greeted President Obama on the way to a DNC fundraiser in Santa Monica, California today demanding an immediate stop to deportations. 

The Obama administration has deported more than 1.7 million people throughout his presidency. If these rates continue, nearly as many people will have been deported under his administration than during the years of 1892 to 1997.

The number of deportations is set to reach 2 million by 2014. 

March 25th - the victims of the Soviet deportations remembered in the Baltics. Twenty thousand candles were lit on Freedom Square in Talinn today, one for each man, woman and child deported by the Soviets from Estonia to Siberia in 1949. In the span of a few days nearly 3% of the population of Estonia was dispatched to Siberia. 15,500 Latvians - among them 2400 children under 10 - saw the same fate. Altogether 42,000 people were arrested, many to never return again to their homeland. A day of remembrance… and hope, that it may never happen again.

Help Us Stop Nancy’s Deportation

Nancy Morales is a wife and mother who is very ill with the autoimmune disease lupus. She and her husband, Victor, went to the Intensive Supervision & Appearance Program (ISAP) offices in San Francisco when Immigration and Customs Enforcement informed her that she was going to be placed in removal proceedings. Nancy and her husband had a petition that she had filed under her father, who is a U.S. citizen. As soon as she arrived to the ISAP office, they put her and Victor in deportation proceedings. Almost immediately after, Victor was deported back to Mexico and Nancy was forced to wear an ankle bracelet until her court hearing on April 8th.

Nancy is an aged out a DREAMer who was born in Guatemala and has been in the U.S. since the age of 14. She has a 14 year old U.S. citizen daughter and, due to her condition, she is not able to work in order to provide for her daughter and herself. Nancy is worried that this might force them to have to move out of the country with no resources.

Please sign the petition below telling ICE to drop her deportation case.

We are making calls to John Morton, Director of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), at (202) 732-3000, please take 2 minutes to make a call.

Sample script:

"I am calling in support of Nancy Morales (A#72686369) she is a wife of a 14 year old citizen daughter and is i’ll with Lupus. She is a low priority deportation and is eligible for prosecutorial discretion. Nancy needs medical care not to be deported."


#Not1more strikes again: California youth protest for-profit immigration detention center
November 25, 2013

Three young adults chained their necks with bicycle locks to the front gates of the newly reopened Adelanto Detention Center, a for-profit immigrant prison in California.

Since its reopening in 2011, Adelanto has become the largest immigrant detention center in California. It’s privately owned and run by GEO Group Inc., a for-profit prison corporation. Adelanto is already known for its “segregation cells,” a form of solitary confinement. The privately-owned prison has 1,200 beds to hold migrants who are either waiting for a ruling on their immigration cases or to be deported from the country.

The three young women are part of the Empire Inland-Immigrant Youth Coalition. The action was organized to support three family members currently detained inside the prison, with the broader demand to end inhumane incarceration and release everyone detained in time for the holiday season.

“We need a moratorium on deportations, deferred action for all, and the end of inhumane treatment,” said Luis Serrano of the Coalition.

Today’s action is part of the broader national #Not1more campaign intended to pressure President Obama to take administrative relief and halt deportations. Since he has taken office in 2008, nearly two million people have been deported, more than during any other time in U.S. history. The #Not1more campaign is behind the escalating national movement to use direct action to stop deportations, which include shutdowns of ICE detention centers across the country.


Meet Arturo Hernández García, an undocumented immigrant and father of two who has sought sanctuary at the First Unitarian Society Church in Denver as he fights his deportation. Watch the Democracy Now! interview with Arturo, and his nine-year-old daughter Andrea, a United States citizen. Her status means he may be allowed to stay in the country under President Obama’s new deferred action program starting in May — if he is not deported before then.


The High Cost of Deporting Parents

In 2011, Ray Jesús was helping his wife prepare food for their family’s catering business when he was tackled outside of his home by ICE agents. He was deported to his home country of Guatemala where he spent years away from his wife and children. Ray was a business owner, tax payer, but most importantly, he was the father of 5 children who missed his presence and financial support.

This short doc takes a look at the financial cost on both families in the United States of those deported, and the U.S. government, which has been deporting 1,000 people a day under Obama. As Barack Obama considers ways to enforce immigration laws “more humanely,” VICE News traveled to Guatemala to meet with Ray Jesús, and tell his story.

Update: Ray Jesús is back home with his family. While this is great news for our Chapino brother, how many more of his paisanos, and ours, are still living the nightmare that he lived for almost 3 years? Too many!

Where Obama promised to focus enforcement efforts on dangerous criminals, he has instead focused on hardworking men and women who pose no danger to the United States. Thousands of separated families will be his legacy. Obama, ¡ya no chingues!

URGENT: Alfredo Can Be Deported at Any Time! Let Him Go!! 

Alfredo Carrillo (A# 089-826-103), father of 3 US citizen children who has lived in the U.S. for 17 years was pulled over and detained for driving without a license in Arapaho County, Colorado. Currently Alfredo is being held in Otoro County Processing Center, NM. Although Alfredo was previously deported in 2008, due to the economic hardships his family was facing he returned in 2010. He is low priority and should be released. 

Make a Phone Call:

Call ICE Director John Morton (202) 732-3000

Sample Script: “ I am calling to urge ICE to release Alfredo Carrillo (A# 089-826-103), who is currently being held in Otero County Processing Center. Alfredo has been in the U.S. for over 16 years and has 3 U.S. citizen children that need the financial and emotional support of their father. Alfredo is low priority case that shouldn’t be detained. Let Alfredo Go!” 


Undocumented children are crossing the US border alone in increasing numbers
March 26, 2013

They miss their parents, whom they haven’t seen in years. Or they’re escaping poverty and neglect, or violence. So the kids come across the border by themselves—and their numbers are increasing, even as illegal immigration trends down or stays flat.

In 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 8,041 unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the border; in 2012, that number was 24,481.

A little under half, about 10,500 young border crossers, came from Mexico in 2012. Most Mexican kids are quickly repatriated, says Elizabeth G. Kennedy, a researcher and social scientist at San Diego State University. But the remainder, almost 14,000 unaccompanied minors in 2012 alone, are children predominantly from increasingly violent Central American countries.

The journey north is harrowing, says Kennedy, who recently published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association detailing the fragile mental states of young border crossers. On the trains and trails, some are raped, drugged, maimed, and robbed, she says. The lucky ones arrive in planes and then are nabbed by border authorities at the airport.

After apprehension by the Department of Homeland Security, all undocumented kid border crossers who don’t come from Mexico or Canada are shipped over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, in the Department of Health and Human Services. There they’re resettled or reunited with relatives or guardians, all the while facing deportation proceedings in immigration court—and more than 50 percent do not have lawyers.

Miguel Garcia was one such kid. He fled Guatemala City, he tells The Daily Beast, after the notorious M18 gang tried to recruit him when he played soccer. When he declined, the gang shot his brother, mistaking him for Garcia. The brother remained permanently wounded and now has difficulty walking. The gang continued to threaten the Garcia family, demanding enormous sums of money for the privilege of living in the neighborhood. At the time, Miguel Garcia was 16 years old. He figured if he left Guatemala, M18 would leave him and his family alone.

After a brutal journey through Mexico, he was apprehended near the border in Texas. He spent a few weeks at an Office of Refugee Resettlement facility, then was turned over to his uncle in California. Garcia’s uncle, Luis, cleans swimming pools for a living and could not afford the $5,000 that private lawyers wanted to take the case.

The plight of a growing number of kids like Garcia is finally being discussed on Capitol Hill. At a March 6 Senate hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder if the Justice Department might take over from the Department of Health and Human Services the responsibility of finding lawyers for the children.

Holder seemed willing but pointed out that DOJ needed extra funding to take on the responsibility. “It is inexcusable that young kids … have immigration decisions made on their behalf, against them, whatever, and they’re not represented by counsel,” he said.

“That’s not who we are as a nation,” Holder added. “It is not the way in which we do things.”

Franken brought up the topic again at a second Senate hearing March 18, though no action has been formally proposed.

Kids without lawyers often don’t know “what’s going on” with their immigration cases, says Kennedy.

In 2008, the Office of Refugee Resettlement oversaw 6,658 unaccompanied undocumented children; by 2012, the number had soared to 13,625 kids. This year is on track for a record—so far, 6,965 unaccompanied border crossers have arrived at the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s doorstep.

Through paid contractors, the kids are housed, counseled, educated, and reunited, if possible, with their parents or guardians. Paradoxically, many of the children are likely eligible to stay in the United States via asylum, special visas, or green cards.

Full article

Asian American contingent in solidarity with Chicanas/os at a march against deportations, East Los Angeles, summer 1976. Photo courtesy of Mary Kao.

Census and other studies have put the number of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. at approximately 12 million. About 1.5 million are Asians — representing 12 percent of the total Asian population — with 23 percent estimated to be Chinese, 17 percent Filipino, 14 percent Indian, 11 percent Koreans and the balance from a variety of smaller countries, all with different issues.

For instance, huge backlogs exist in families where immigrant citizens or legal permanent residents can bring spouses, parents and minor children from overseas. Their wait times are heartbreaking. The longest is for Filipinos, Narasaki said — they currently must wait about 19 years to reunite with family members. Chinese and Indians face up to nine-year waits.

Then there are the concerns of refugees from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma who are wary about strict filing deadlines for asylum claims and crackdowns on deportations for minor criminal offenses.

Obama: The Drones and Deportations President

Stating the Obvious: First black president of the U.S. has been a disaster for many people of color

On Friday, reports emerged that Barack Obama was open to a Republican no-path-to-citizenship immigration plan. Another betrayal of his promise of comprehensive immigration reform.

In light of this report and other recent remarks on immigration, we said Obama has been acting like a Republican in blackface. Several were offended, some even called us racist.

What they may not know is that the term “blackface” in this context is not used literally or as a slur, as in Obama has a black face. It is, however, meant as a political statement, a rebuke of many of the policies of the first black president of the United States, especially those related to Mexico and immigration reform. We recognize that it could be misinterpreted and seen as offensive, but we felt it was necessary to express our deep disappointment with Obama and his administration.

The reality is that we’re offended that the United States’ first black president has turned to the Republican practice of scapegoating Mexicans, and has in fact, deported 2 million, more than any other president in U.S. history, separating thousands of families in the process.

“Republican in blackface” is also a reference to a comment made by Dr. Cornel West during the 2012 election. “I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies,” West told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now back in a November 9, 2012, interview. We agree!

Internationally, Obama’s record hasn’t been much better. War hawks at the Pentagon seem to be calling the shots, or at least dictating the United States’ foreign policy.

“Across Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the Obama administration has launched more than 390 drone strikes in the five years since the first attack…eight times as many as were launched in the entire Bush presidency. These strikes have killed more than 2,400 people, at least 273 of them reportedly civilians,” reports the The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

At the end of the day, Obama’s record speaks for itself. He’s chosen the cynical path of scapegoating and war to appease a far rightwing who has never supported him, and likely never will. This is a problem Obama has created for himself. After all, he was elected with a mandate to end wars. Instead, he has been in many regards worse on this matter than was his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama has not only been a huge disappointment, he’s been somehow able to escape much of the criticism that he rightfully deserves. As we’ve stated in the past, imagine if Romney had won the election and was setting records for deportations and drone strikes? There would surely be uproar in the streets. Ignoring the fact that the first African American president of the U.S. has been unfriendly and even disastrous for the Mexican community — and other people of color — is not something we’re willing to do. We ask people of good conscience to stand with us, including our black brothers and sisters. It’s time that we hold Obama accountable on these and other issues.

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French students barricade high school to protest deportation of classmates
October 21, 2013

Thousands of French high school students have launched protests across Paris, building barricades to block their own schools’ entrances, to show their opposition to aggressive government deportations of their classmates.

The uprisings were touched off by what many are calling the “inhumane” expulsion of a 15-year-old Kosovan Roma student Leonarda Dibrani, who was arrested in front of her fellow pupils while she was on a school field trip earlier this month after her family was denied asylum. She, her five siblings, and her parents were subsequently deported to Kosovo.

Protests swept more than 30 schools in Paris and the suburbs on Thursday, according to the high school student union the UNL, with the Paris education authority reporting 14 schools were “disrupted.”

Students blocked entrances to several schools with barricades and protests. The Guardian reports, “At one high school in Paris students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying ‘Education in danger.’” A mass protest took place at Paris’s Place de la Nation, France 24 reports.

Some reports have emerged of clashes between protesters and police—who wielded batons and fired teargas.

"Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work and have a family. When children try to achieve that, France refuses, and that is not my country," said protester Romain Desprez in an interview with the Guardian.

“Everyone has the right to an education,” Steven Nassiri, spokesman of the FIDL high school union, told AFP, explaining that protesters were demanding the return of students who had been deported from France.

Deportations like Dibrani’s are commonplace in a country known for its harsh immigration laws targeting its many migrant communities. France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls sparked public outrage last month when he declared that a vast majority of the country’s 20,000 Roma residents should be deported.

"My home is in France," Dibrani declared in French when interviewed from the Kosovo city of Mitrovica where she was deported, the Guardian reports. “I don’t speak the language here [in Kosovo] and I don’t know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened.”



March Against Deportation/Detention and Wage Theft

Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 1:30 pm

Foley Sq to Zuccotti Park, New York City

Immigrants are part of the 99% and on December 18th we will march with the Occupy Wall Street movement to demand immigrant justice including putting an end to wage theft, and stopping detentions and deportations
of our beloved community members. As the Occupy Wall Street movement highlights corporate profiteering we would like to shed light on those that profit off our labor, exploit workers and refuse to pay dignified wages. We also march against the corporations who support anti-immigrant legislation so they can make billions of dollars by detaining immigrants in private detention centers and deporting nearly 400,000 people per year.

As the Occupy movement goes global, we also recognize the destructive role that these corporations play in exploiting resources and labor in our home countries which forces millions to migrate. December 18th is the International Day of Migrants and we stand in solidarity with those world wide who are proclaiming Immigrant Rights as Human Rights.

After just six years in office, President Barack Obama will have overseen 2 million deportations. It took Republican President George W. Bush eight years to reach 2 million deportations. It took 20 presidents between 1892 and 1996 to reach as many deportations.

Many activists find it ironic that Obama, the son of a Kenyan immigrant, will go down in history as the president who has deported the most people.

Obama’s program of mass deportation is on par with other racially tainted tragedies in our history: Indian boarding schools that kept Native American children from their parents; internment camps where Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans were forced to live during World War II; and the Jim Crow laws that denied equal opportunities to African Americans.

As much as many Americans would like to think we have buried racially discriminatory episodes deep in our history, contemporary mass deportation proves otherwise. It primarily affects nonwhite people; is carried out without due process; and separates millions of children from their parents.

Under Jim Crow laws, African Americans were denied access to schools, housing and the ballot box. When long-term residents of the United States are deported, some face a life of exile from the only country they have ever known for convictions such as marijuana possession or tax evasion. Like Jim Crow laws, deportation laws primarily affect one group of people: more than 97 percent of people deported last year were Caribbean or Latin-American immigrants, even though they only account for 60 percent of non-citizens.

Many of these deportees were deported to countries they barely know. I recently interviewed 150 deportees in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Brazil who recounted horror stories of police brutality, gang violence, homelessness and a life of poverty and isolation.

The deportation of legal permanent residents has hit black immigrants particularly hard. Using data from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that one of every 12 Jamaican and Dominican male legal permanent residents has been deported since 1996.

The United States currently detains upwards of 30,000 immigrants per day, much as it imprisoned more than 120,000 people of Japanese origin during World War II without trials or other court processes. The Department of Homeland Security has broad discretion to arrest and detain any person they suspect does not have the legal right to be in the United States. People held under such detention do not have the same rights and safeguards as criminal suspects. They do not have the right to a speedy hearing before a judge nor do they have the right to appointed counsel.

Like Native American children taken from their parents in the early 20th century, the same is happening to immigrants today. One Guatemalan deportee I interviewed has a custody hearing for her daughter this month, which she is unable to attend. She expects she will lose her parental rights.

When immigrants face deportation on criminal grounds, judges are often unable to take their family ties into account before ordering a deportation. Current immigration laws barely distinguish between a long-term legal permanent resident with U.S. citizen children convicted of writing a bad check and a visa over-stayer convicted of murder. Both of these crimes can be considered aggravated felonies and can lead to deportation with no due process.

In 2012, more than 400,000 people were deported. Nearly 100,000 of them were parents of U.S. citizens. Tens of thousands of these children will grow up in the United States knowing that the U.S. government has taken away their right to grow up with one or both of their parents.

Obama could issue an executive order ending deportations until comprehensive immigration reform that restores due process is enacted. This would be in keeping with his legacy as a civil rights and constitutional lawyer. It also would keep families together and avoid unnecessary suffering.