by Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Last evening, I began fasting in solidarity with the brave and resolute activists participating in the Fast4Families effort, who have been fasting for 21 days (since November 12). They are fasting to call for Congressional action on immigration reform. I join them in asking that my country pass a common sense reform law that will allow millions of families to stay together, families who are just as deserving as mine to feel safe and welcome.
My fast comes after several years of thinking about immigration and the people it affects. As a fourth generation American, I can’t help but see what our broken immigration system is doing to families– families who are just like mine, except that they live each day in fear knowing that they can be separated at any time, be sent away from their homes, be abused by criminally immoral employers, be placed in solitary confinement, or be sent back to a country that is unknown and unsafe for them.
My fast grew from meeting transgender immigrants who came to the U.S. because they were transgender and not physically or economically safe where they were. Once here, they are unsafe in our broken immigration system because they are transgender. Our flawed enforcement programs funnel vulnerable transgender immigrants into our inhumane immigration detention system, and because they are transgender, they are routinely assigned to the torture of solitary confinement for an average of 9-12 months.