Salvadoran asylum seeker, Alejandra Barrera, a transgender woman who has been locked up in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail in New Mexico for 19 months, recently filed a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in federal court demanding her release.
Since her entry into the United States over a year and a half ago, Alejandra has been held in the transgender unit at Cibola County Correctional Center. Last month, Alejandra and other women being held in the same unit sent open letters to legal organizations and the press condemning the conditions of the facility. The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) received a letter that specifically rebutted claims made by ICE after the agency conducted a promotional photo shoot in the unit.
What follows is the original Spanish-language letter (and subsequent English translation) that Alejandra sent to various media organizations. TRR is reprinting the letter in an effort to grow awareness of her narrative, as well as the suffering that she and other trans women have endured in the face of growing human rights violations against immigrants.
Cibola County Correctional Center NM (SOS),
This writing is an exact response to the lies and tricks that have been told on the internet and in the media: the photos that were published by ICE and Mr. Miles are a complete falsehood. They tricked us, and forced us to sign some photographs and videos, in order for us to have access to spaces in the unit and for things that have not happened.
The supposed beauty parlor is always closed, and the chairs for the same are in storage. The supposed gardening of plants that day was simply a stick that was torn off a tree and put into the ground. The food is only that way when there are visits, from day to day it is raw and mixed up. The games in the yard only happen if the officials are in a good mood and don’t lock us up before the permitted hour. We ask them: Why do you not speak of or photograph reality?
- People locked up in the hole
- People with HIV receiving poor treatment, isolated and with great depression, susceptible to dying here
- The uniforms are washed alongside the mops
- Torn blankets and socks
- People with skin infections
- The drinking water is from the top part of the toilets where we must do our necessities.
The detained women must buy personal hygiene items because the ones they give us are of a terrible quality, and what can be bought has a high price (see attached list of items and their costs). There are disabled people here.
WE ASK AND DEMAND AN INVESTIGATION, THAT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY SUPPORT US, THAT THE TRUTH BE TOLD VIA THE MEDIA AND TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES.
P.S. We attach the names and signatures of the detained women who are in agreement with this writing. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL SOMEONE ELSE DIES TO ACT.