|North American mainstream media does not show the reality of
of transgender life in Mexico. planetransgender rocked
viewers with this image in 2010 of a decapitated
Perla Lopez-Roque came to San Diego hoping to escape the extreme violence of her home town of Villa Hemosa Mexico where she beaten and repeatedly raped by the police and the mayor.
Mayor Octavio Manuel Carrillo Castellanos and 17 others were later brutally murdered by drug gangs, many of their decapitated bodies hung from bridges.
Most transgender asylum seekers don’t appeal a deportation order order because of a lack of resources and legal representation.
Lopez-Roque broke the trend. She appealed but lost her first bid for asylum in the US. The judge ruled that she “did not meet the burden of proof” that would show that the government acquiesced to her mistreatment because of her transgender status. The judge also said the she was a public hazard because of her HIV status and arrests for prostitution between 1990 and 2007. However in a ground breaking ruling she did win the right to appeal.
A federal immigration judge ruled Oct. 21 at a hearing in Los Angeles that the U.S. government could not expel 46-year-old Perla Lopez-Roque, who was seeking asylum on the grounds that her transgender status put her in danger in her native country.
Ms. Lopez-Roque left the court in tears repeatedly saying thank you.
Amicus brief from The Center for HIV Law and Policy
“Pleadings and Briefs
The petitioner in this case is a transgender woman living with HIV who was arrested for offering sex for money. Although it is undisputed that she experienced “past persecution on account of a protected ground”—her transgender identity —the immigration judge improperly concluded that her HIV status, together with her arrest on sex work charges, trumps her imminent risk of persecution in Mexico and allows deportation. Based on misinformation and misconceptions about HIV, the IJ found that “[t]he type of disease also shows that the alien may be a danger to the community.”
The Center for HIV Law and Policy and the organizations it represents on this brief raise two issues: the Immigration Judge (“IJ”) erred in denying immigration relief based on the petitioner’s HIV status, while simultaneously failing to consider how that status places her at imminent risk for future persecution in Mexico. Amici urged the Board to reverse the IJ’s decision and grant Ms. Lopez Roque’s application for withholding of removal; or, in the alternative, that the Board remand the case to the IJ with instructions that ensure she is not removed on the basis of her HIV status to Mexico, where she faces near-certain violence as a transgender person living with HIV.”
Perla Lopez-Roque’s attorny Peter Perkowski Discusses Win for Transgender Pro Bono Client Facing Deportation
Mr. Perkowski represented Wilfrido “Perla” Lopez-Roque, an undocumented Mexican transgender individual who faced deportation and was seeking asylum on the grounds that her transgender status put her in danger in her native country.
“In light of the ample evidence demonstrating widespread brutality against [gay/transgender] people,” Mr. Perkowski argued, deportation should be denied under the Convention Against Torture Treaty.
On October 21, a federal immigration judge ruled that the U.S. government could not deport Ms. Lopez-Roque and released her from federal custody. Mr. Perkowski said that the ruling should serve as a beacon of hope to other transgender individuals.
Mr. Perkowski recently received Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project’s Volunteer of the Year Award for his years of service in support of immigrant rights.