M.C. Sungaila in Newsweek: Transgender Asylum Seekers Face Different Dangers Than Gays

09/08/2015

Transgender asylum-seekers are "especially visible, and vulnerable, to harassment and persecution" and should be assessed by U.S. immigration officials differently than  gay asylum-seekers, a federal court ruled Thursday.

The decision stems from the immigration case of Edin Avendano-Hernandez, a transgender woman from Mexico. Avendano-Hernandez fled to the U.S. after allegedly suffering repeated rapes in Mexico, including at the hands of police and military members. She fought deportation from the U.S., arguing that she would be tortured or killed if returned to Mexico...

Two other transgender Mexican women, Lucia Mondragon-Alday and Daniella Godoy-Ramirez, also received relief from the court, according to the Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). They have the opportunity to re-argue their cases in immigration court, using the ninth circuit's decision as grounds for preventing deportation.

"These are important decisions for both the gay and transgender communities, and a victory for those who value fair and humane treatment of all people," M.C. Sungaila, who represents Mondragon-Alday, told Newsweek in an e-mail. "The Ninth Circuit’s decisions in all three cases collectively establish that, in assessing a transgender woman’s claims for protection under the immigration laws, courts must not treat a transgender woman’s claim interchangeably with that of a gay man, and that favorable changes in the law (such as the recognition of same sex marriage) may have no effect on the day to day lives of those individuals who may continue to experience violent attacks at the hands of government officials and others simply because they are gay or transgender."

Excerpted from Newsweek. To read the full article, click here.

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