Transgender women dread immigration detentions, where they fear abuse

Immigration Equality, America’s leading LGBT+ immigrant rights organization, reports that half of their clients have been sexually assaulted, or threatened with sexual assault, while in immigration detention.

The New York Times reports on the issue, focusing on the story of Nina Chaubal, who was arrested by the Border Patrol while driving through Arizona with her wife Greta Martela. Chaubal, who was detained because of an invalid work visa, didn’t fear the prospect of deportation, but says she was terrified of what could happen to her while held in custody at the Elroy Detention Center.

In an immediate response, her wife Greta engaged the 30,000 plus followers on their Trans Lifeline Facebook page and raised more than $10,00 to pay for Nina’s bond and legal support. The supporters of the crisis hotline for transgender individuals also encouraged each other to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency in charge of immigrants’ detention and deportation, to advocate for Chaubal’s rights.

Methods on how to best protect transgender women in immigration detentions is a very perplexing subject for the federal authorities. Even though the ICE recognizes transgender detainees as a vulnerable population, and created guidelines to allow transgender detainees to continue their hormone treatments and be placed in units based on the gender they identify with, lawyers and advocates say mistreatment and abuse still endure.

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