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Pallone Calls on ICE to Protect Rights of Transgender Asylum Seekers

August 1, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent a letter to Acting Director Matthew Albence at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding inhumane and illegal treatment of transgender asylum seekers. The Trump Administration has refused to uphold its legal duty to provide protection for transgender migrants who have a credible fear of persecution and has failed to adhere to the 2015 ICE memorandum on the Care of Transgender Detainees. Pallone was joined by 33 of his colleagues who also signed the letter.

The letter is a response to numerous reports that transgender asylum seekers do not receive humane treatment when they enter the United States. Camila Díaz Córdova was killed in El Salvador after immigrations officials denied her claim to asylum in the United States and deported her. Alejandra Barrera requested asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in November 2017 and remains in an ICE detention facility despite health conditions that require specialized medical care.

The letter was signed by 34 Members of Congress, including Representatives Albio Sires (NJ-08), Debra Haaland (NM-01), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Mark Takano (CA-41), Jason Crow (CO-06), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Pocan (WA-02), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), David Trone (MD-06), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Adam Smith (WA-09), David Cicilline (RI-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), and Dina Titus (NV-01).

“Transgender migrants face deplorable persecution and violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. We ask that you honor the longstanding reputation of the United States as a safe refuge for individuals who face persecution and violence,” the lawmakers wrote. “Specifically, we ask that you bring ICE into compliance with its stated policy for the treatment of transgender detainees. We further ask that you take tangible steps to protect the legal rights of transgender individuals who meet the necessary criteria to be considered for asylum.”

The letter has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, Council for Global Equality, and Garden State Equality. A copy of the letter is available here.