US: The deadly dilemma facing trans migrants

Camila had been deported from the U.S. a few months earlier. She was one of a growing number of trans people from Central America hoping to escape death in their homeland by seeking asylum in the U.S., only to be detained for months before being sent back to the targeted violence they were trying to flee. Since October 2018, an estimated 300 trans migrants have been placed in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers along America’s southern border, the highest number since official reports started in 2015.

But as of July 1, 2019, only 145 of them remained in 32 detention centers, according to the latest ICE data, with the vast majority of the rest already deported: Syracuse University research shows that a record 70 percent of migrant asylum requests are being rejected now under the Trump administration. Only one detention center has a unit exclusively for trans women. In the rest, they are usually held alongside men, despite widespread reports of ill treatment and abuse.

Increasingly, those conditions, combined with the poor odds of winning asylum, are making trans migrants withdraw their applications after months in detention, say human rights activists. At times, they do so unknowingly. Camila told Joana — who requested the pseudonym for security reasons — that after spending three months in a detention center among men, she was persuaded to sign complex papers written in English, a language she did not speak. She was giving up her asylum request to return to a land where she was soon killed.

This was the second time Joana had buried a friend. In 2012, Monica was also brutally murdered in San Salvador. “I feel like I’m playing Russian roulette and that I’m next,” she says.

Across El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the area known as Central America’s Northern Triangle, homicide rates are among the highest in the world. But trans people face even more severe threats than the rest of the population in a conservative region where discrimination is rife against those seen as different from the mainstream gender norms.  Read more via OZY