On Saturday August 2nd, hundreds of pro-immigrant groups from the around the country descended on the streets of Washington, DC calling for a halt to deportations of undocumented immigrants and for expansion of policies that allow undocumented or mixed status families to remain in the country together. The groups used the phrase “Not 1 More” as their slogan. More than 1,100 immigrants are separated from their families and communities each day through deportations according to the National Immigrant Law Center.
President Obama has the ability through a legal mechanism known as “administrative relief” to allow undocumented immigrants to stay based on certain circumstances. Organizers of the rally called for the Administration to expand its guidelines for administrative relief. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) supports expansion of the guidelines and hopes that an immigrant’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation, as well as the likelihood of persecution or violence upon repatriation, is included.
NCTE staff attended the rally that began on the National Mall and ended at Lafayette Square in front of the White House. Two transgender women from Southerners on New Ground (SONG) addressed the crowd and spoke of the particular horrors transgender undocumented immigrants face in detention centers. The women asked for President Obama to include transgender undocumented immigrants under expansion of administrative relief.
An estimated 20,000 transgender adults in the US are undocumented immigrants, and many undocumented youth are transgender or gay. Transgender undocumented immigrants who often come to seek refuge from severe transphobic violence and persecution in their homelands. Once in the United States, they continue to face discrimination and violence as the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey has documented. If caught by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, transgender immigrants are subjected to further brutal harassment and sexual assault and violence in detention centers, as recently reported in a high profile case in Arizona.