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Immigrant Leaders Arrested In Action Protesting Treatment of LGBTQ Immigrants In ICE Detention

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Six immigrant rights leaders were arrested yesterday during an action protesting the treatment of LGBTQ immigrants while in ICE detention.

“We are asking President Obama to free all LGBT people from detention because detention is not protecting them. Detention is brutalizing them,” said Brooke Cerda-Guzmán, an undocumented transgender woman.

Cerda-Guzmán was one of the six leaders arrested near the White House yesterday. The action was organized by activists from United We Dream, Make The Road New York, Casa Ruby, and other groups from across the country.

“Detention is bad for everyone, but it is especially bad for LGBTQ immigrants,” said Carlos Padilla, a United We Dream leader and Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project coordinator.

“No one should should have to face such horrific conditions for simply being who they are.”

In a brutal piece last year, Fusion detailed the harrowing abuse transgender detainees — particularly trans women — face while in ICE custody at both the hands of fellow detainees and agents:

[In one incident], an ICE detention officer in Arizona forced a trans woman to take her shirt off, while he ejaculated into a styrofoam cup and demanded that she drink his semen. He admitted to the abuse and served two days in county jail, while the victim remained in ICE detention for another five months awaiting her asylum hearing — in a cell with men.

In other instances, LGBTQ detainees have been deprived of critical medications by detention staff. Even though she had immediately notified the detention center’s medical team about her medical needs, trans woman and activist Bamby Salcedo went two weeks without the HIV medication she must take twice daily.

From Elise Foley:

LGBT people are more likely to experience abuse and sexual assault in immigration detention than heterosexual inmates, according to the progressive think tank Center for American Progress. The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, estimates there are more than 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants in the U.S. The U.S. government reported more than 140 undocumented immigrants died in detention from 2003 to 2013. The number of LGBT people included in that figure is unknown.

Earlier this week, ICE announced it would take further steps to accommodate LGBTQ detainees, including housing detainees according to their gender identity.

But activists say it is too little, too late.

“No matter how much better you make that cage, it doesn’t change the fact that it is a cage,” Padilla said.

See photos from the action protesting the treatment of LGBTQ immigrants in ICE detention below.