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#BreaktheCage: LGBTQ+ Activists aim to Stop the Deportation of Trans and Queer Immigrants

LGBT activists are continuing their demand for immigrant trans rights this week in protest to a lack of governmental response with the hashtag #Breakthecage. The hashtag is a call for reform in detention practices by the United States organized by United We Dream, The Trans Women of Color Collective, Immigration Equality, Casa Ruby, the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

There are currently 11.4 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., with 267,000 of those identified as LGBTQ according to the organization’s Facebook event. Throughout the world, numerous countries still outlaw acts of homosexuality, creating a huge push for immigration to countries that do not. Fleeing one state only to be detained or, even worse, deported from another has the potential for incredibly harmful results. LGBTQIA individuals continue to be 13 times more likely to be targets of sexual assault, are held in solitary confinement, and inaccurately processed with the gender they self identify as.

On July 30, the collective gathered in Washington D.C. to stage a “die-in”, a smart and poignant take on the “sit-in”. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on June 29 the Transgender Care Memorandum as a response to the initial protests. Shortly after, United We Dream released a press release calling out ICE for failing to effectively and meaningfully take trans immigrant issues into consideration.

The memorandum named three points they would focus on reorganizing, which include updating data take-in to better document gender identity, better training for officers to identify gender earlier on, and the creation of a Transgender Care Classification Committee. These may be steps in the right direct, but they fail to systematically self-asses a program that continues to violate human rights for the LGBTQIA community.

#Breakthecage is also emerging as an example of young activism- United We Dream is an advocacy group for and by immigrant youth, along with the other organizations involved in the movement. Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, have been their biggest advantages. As the “die-in” progressed, up-to-date information on the protest and alleged arrests were shared through these networks.

If you’d like to support #breakthecage, you can sign their petition here.

Image via Steven Depolo.

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Written by Sarah Foot

Sarah Foot is a native Vancouverite who, conveniently, loves the smell of rain. A recent graduate from Simon Fraser University, she is passionate about the topics of feminism, agency and sexuality. When she isn’t writing up a sweet-smelling storm, you can catch Sarah dancing, petting dogs or on her blog Ink and Jam. You can also follow her day-to-day ponderings on twitter @sarahfoot.

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