Courtesy of the Transgender Law Center
A march in Phoenix to mark the anniversary of the anti-immigrant law SB 1070 will also be a celebration for the release of Nicoll Hernández-Polanco
, a Guatemalan transgender woman who was given asylum in the U.S. yesterday. She had been apprehended at all-male detention facility for the past six months.
Nicoll's case is one of many the Transgender Law Center has helped put at the forefront of the demand to stop detaining LGBTQ immigrants—several groups have asked the federal government to classify transgender asylum seekers like Nicoll as a "vulnerable group," meaning very likely to endure abuse in detention, as was Nicoll's case.
While in the Florence immigration detention center, Nicoll was sexually assaulted by a detainee, physically and emotionally abused by guards and, during the first few weeks there, forced to shower with men.
From a Transgender Law Center statement:
The transgender and queer migrant community of Arizona and the nation celebrates Nicoll Hernandez-Polanco’s release. This victory was won by tireless hours of work from community members and Nicoll’s legal team. The #FreeNicoll campaign involved Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Arcoíris Liberation Team, Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, Transgender Law Center, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and many others. Nicoll is ecstatic to be free and excited for the support she received.
Today Nicoll is free and her community marches for an ICE Free Arizona on the anniversary of the infamous anti-immigrant law SB1070 demanding that ICE and DHS immediately halt all detention and deportation of LGBTQ immigrants. Unfortunately, Nicoll’s experience is all too typical. While trans women make up only 1 out of every 500 people detained by ICE, they are a shocking 1 out of every 5 substantiated cases of sexual assault in detention. ICE has demonstrated over and over that they are incapable of detaining LGBTQ immigrants with even minimal levels of dignity and safety. As Nicoll states “LGBTQ people deserve respect and do not belong in ICE detention.”
Other organizers of today's march are Tucson's Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, the Phoenix-based Arcoíris Liberation Team and AZ QUIP.
The rally begins at 3 p.m. near the horse statue at the state Capitol.