Christina Lopez is a 35 year old transgender immigrant who has been in immigration detention for a year and a half.
She is currently detained at the Santa Ana City Jail in need for medical attention for Hepatitis C, which so far the detention center has refused to provide despite several requests.
Christina left Peru following her parents, who had traveled to the U.S. to find better economic opportunities. In addition to wanting to be with her family, emigrating was a matter of life and death for Christina, as an attempt to escape harsh violence against transgender people in Peru.
Christina grew up with her mother and two brothers. Before she was in detention, she was took care of her 32-year old brother, who is autistic. He needs around the clock supervision, so Christina would watch him while their mother worked. Her detention has been extremely difficult for her brother, and her entire family.
But Chrsitina’s adjustment to the U.S. was not easy. As a transgender woman she had little support from her family and few access to resources. She became involved in an abusive relationship, which lead to at least one documented case of physical violence from her partner. She also began to have a drinking problem, during which received 3 driving under the influence charges. The latest charge, in 2012, is what led Christina to be detained and put in deportation proceedings.
LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations under the #Not1More campaign, including Familia QTLM, GetEQUAL, the Transgender Law Center, and the are organizing to support Christina’s release calling attention to how her experience shows the repeated failure of the immigration enforcement authorities to meet the needs of transgender women in detention.
Even with the recently released guidelines, Christina’s conditions would not change in the detention center. Christina’s story is an example of how ICE cannot guarantee the safety and minimum dignity for immigrants, in particular of a transgender immigrant with particular health care needs. The agency needs to use prosecutorial discretion to release Christina from detention.