On any given day, some 75 transgender immigrants are locked up in immigration detention, Fusion found. For some of those individuals, their experiences while in detention—including rampant sexual abuse, solitary confinement and a lack of access to medication—make life so intolerable that some choose expedited deportation over fighting to stay in the U.S., despite the fact that many immigrated to the U.S. to flee violence and discrimination in their home countries.
Transgender detainees account for 20 percent of confirmed cases of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities, Fusion found in its six-month investigation. Fusion reporters Cristina Constantini, Jorge Rivas and Kristoffer Ríos told the story of Bamby Salcedo:
When immigration authorities took Bamby Salcedo to the San Pedro Detention Center in Southern California, she worried about staying safe and healthy. Salcedo was taking T20, an HIV antiretroviral drug that she injected twice a day. It was critical she didn’t miss a dose because she would build resistance to the drug, she says doctors told her.
As soon as she arrived at the facility, she alerted the center’s medical staff to her needs. The drugs were a matter of life and death, she says. It took the the medical staff two weeks to get Salcedo the antiretroviral treatment she needed.
According to police and medical reports obtained by Fusion, Salcedo experienced abuse and harassment like many other transgender women experience in detention. When a male detainee forced himself on her in a bathroom stall, Salcedo defended herself. He punched her and fractured her nose.
But when Salcedo speaks about her nightmare in detention, she considers herself lucky and says it could have been worse. She remembers her friend Victoria Arellano who was held at the same San Pedro facility and died after she was allegedly denied AIDS medication during her time in detention.
Read the rest at Fusion.