April 29, 2014 — Today, LGBT immigrant activists lead by Immigration Equality hosted a press conference and action at the gates of the White House, calling on President Obama to end deportations and provide immediate relief to immigrant families. The event known as '#Not1More Queer & Trans Person #Deported2Death' was organized by Immigration Equality, alongside the National Day Laborers Organizing Network ( NDLON ) and DRM Action Coalition.
At the press conference, Fernanda Vallejos, who is a client of Immigration Equality's pro bono asylum program, an activist fighting for HIV prevention and an advocate who helped transgender young women get off the streets in Honduras, courageously told her personal struggle as an undocumented, HIV-positive and transgender woman.
"In Honduras, transphobic community members raped and beat me on account of my gender identity," Fernanda said. "Because I am transgender, police in Honduras were unwilling to protect me from my attackers." Fearing for her life, Fernanda fled from her home and the activist work she loved. "I came to the United States because I heard that transgender people could live openly without fear of violence," Fernanda said. However, rather than welcoming her, the Department of Homeland Security placed Fernanda in immigration detention, housing her in a male facility where she was locked-up in solitary confinement for her own "protection." Her future in the United States is still uncertain.
According to Trina Olson, Interim Executive Director of Immigration Equality, LGBT immigrants like Fernanda are at risk of being deported to countries where they will once again be beaten, raped or killed. "Fernanda's story is only one of so many that exemplify how high the stakes are for LGBT immigrants seeking safety in the U.S. For LGBT immigrants, deportation can truly be a death sentence," Olson says. "We need President Obama to provide immediate relief for vulnerable immigrants in our community and all our families."