Back in El Salvador Alejandra was repeatedly sexually assaulted by gangs and the military, just for being a trans rights activist.

After fleeing the country, she is now being held at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) correctional centre, despite the fact that she is an asylum seeker and has no intention to flee the US.

Call on ICE to demand Alejandra’s immediate release.

US: Release trans rights activist Alejandra

Alejandra's story

Alejandra has fought for trans rights for more than a decade in El Salvador.

She was forced to flee to the U.S. after repeated attacks, sexual assaults and extortion by both criminal gangs and by the Salvadoran military.

As an older trans woman, and as a fighter for LGBT rights, […] I am a fighter all the way until the last day that I am on this earth. 

But instead of offering her safety and a chance to rebuild her life, the U.S. government locked her up in a private prison with dreadful health care – which she desperately needs. 

We make requests for medical examinations, and they don’t respond or give us an examination for 15 days. 

Alejandra is now stuck at the Cibola detention centre in New Mexico, waiting for an immigration judge’s decision on her asylum claim. She should be free – not behind bars. 

I applied for parole, with all the documentation requested, but the request was denied at the beginning of April. […] I was not told the reason they denied my parole, just that it was denied. None of us have been given parole. 

Join us in demanding that ICE release her on parole — so she can be reunited with her niece, who is living in the U.S. and has already won her asylum claim.

First I want to go run and hug my niece. We would like to live together. 

Tell ICE to release Alejandra, along with other detained transgender asylum seekers.

Right to asylum

Seeking asylum is a human right. The asylum procedure should be fair and effective, giving people access to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) when they need or request it. Migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers’ rights are protected by international law, no matter how or why they arrive in a country. 

Asylum seekers must be protected at all costs against being deported to the country of origin where they face threats of violence and persecution. While seeking asylum, detention must only be a last resort: those seeking protection should not be held in jail. 

Violence against LGBTI individuals in the Northern Triangle 

The Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), which includes Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, is one of the most dangerous regions in the world. The terrifying level of violence in this region has led many – including many LGBTI people – to flee, seeking asylum elsewhere.

Transgender women in particular experience frequent death threats from gang members, as well as sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking. 

They are subject to gender profiling, unwarranted searches, and arbitrary detention by police. They fear reporting violence to authorities because they do not trust the justice system, and are scared that it will lead to further attacks.

Violence against transgender asylum seekers in detention 

Transgender people face increased risk whilst in asylum detention centres.

They face physical, verbal and sexual violence; threats and intimidation; and malicious misgendering. What’s more, they often aren’t housed in gender-appropriate cells, or subject to solitary cells against their will.

Alejandra's health

We have heard recently that Alejandra's health has been worsening. On June 8, she informed her lawyers that she had been experienced extreme headaches, vomiting and nosebleeds for 11 days, and had to request medical attention six times before finally receiving treatment.

On June 19, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) informed us that Alejandra was "receiving adequate and appropriate medical care". However, according to her lawyer, neither has Alejandra received a proper diagnosis nor has she been given the adequate and consistent treatment she needs to get better.

Please call for her immediate release.