SCOTUS Decision on Census Upholds Importance of Full Participation

Today, HRC responded to a decision by the Supreme Court in Department of Commerce v. New York rejecting the Trump-Pence administration’s proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census based on an inadequate administrative explanation.

“The Trump-Pence administration’s citizenship question is dangerous, unnecessary, and motivated by politics,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “The Supreme Court’s decision recognizes widespread concern over the administration’s political motivation and stated reasoning behind the addition. Our work is not over–every person in the United States needs to ensure they are counted next year. We will continue fighting with coalition partners to ensure that data remains protected and that the Census has a count that reflects the true character of America.”

Today’s ruling demands that the U.S. Census provide more extensive reasoning and explanation behind such a divisive addition.  Last month, the New York Times reported on newly discovered documents that showed how Republican operatives pushed to add a citizenship question to the Census in order to deny communities of color health care and other resources, so as to ensure the electorate is whiter and supports the GOP. 

HRC has pushed back against the Trump-Pence Administration’s demonization of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers at every turn. We have endorsed and lobbied for passage of the Dream Act, which would give a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented people who were brought here as children – including tens of thousands of LGBTQ Dreamers. We have called out the horrific policies that tear families apart at the border and demanded humane treatment of LGBTQ people – and all people – in immigration detention. We have denounced the State Department’s severe cuts in refugee admissions and worked with our partners to tell the stories of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence at home. And we have joined the Muslim community in condemning Trump’s discriminatory Muslim Ban. 

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HRC: House Judiciary Committee Right to Advance VAWA Without Anti-Transgender Amendments

Today, HRC applauded pro-equality members of the House Judiciary Committee for voting down last-minute, harmful, and unnecessary amendments to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that would have stripped protections of transgender people from violence and given organizations and individuals a license to discriminate against the transgender community.

“It’s shocking that in 2019, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee would use a bill designed to address violence against women as a vehicle to launch a coordinated attack on the LGBTQ community,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “Protecting people from violence shouldn’t be a partisan issue. These amendments ignore medical expertise and defy common sense. The reality is that trans people are disproportionately victims of violent crime, and they need to be able to access appropriate services. Leaders of hundreds of sexual violence and domestic violence organizations agree that transgender women victims being served alongside other women is appropriate and not a safety issue. We are grateful that pro-equality members of the Judiciary Committee voted down these discriminatory amendments.”

Despite today’s anti-trans efforts by Republican members, protections against violence for the transgender community in prison and other spaces has a considerable bipartisan history. In 2003, President Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which provided for the development of basic federal protections for the care of transgender people in prison. After six years of study, the Department of Justice adopted regulations fully implementing these protections in 2012. The National PREA Resource Center developed an FAQ on the implementation of these standards, which have made clear that searches of transgender people who are incarcerated should be based on their gender identity and reflect that transgender prisoners are more than nine times more likely to be targeted for sexual abuse or assault.

Last year, HRC called out the Trump-Pence White House’s blatantly undermining Obama-era protections for transgender prisoners when they ordered the Bureau of Prisons to use “biological sex” in determining how transgender prisoners are assigned housing, putting them at significant risk of sexual abuse, assault, and other types of discrimination.

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HRC Sends Expanded FOIA Request to ICE & CBP for Records of Treatment of Trans Detainees

HRC sent expanded Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.S.  Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for the release of any and all records, including but not limited to letters, memos, emails, text messages, phone records, health reports, and other documents regarding any transgender detainees in ICE custody between January 21, 2017 and the present, as well as policies and procedures that guide treatment of transgender people in ICE custody.  

This is a follow-up to an earlier FOIA request by HRC in July for all records related to the death of Roxana Hernández, a transgender woman, while in the custody of ICE and CBP.

Hernández reached the United States border on May 9, 2018, seeking asylum after fleeing Honduras due to the violence and discrimination she experienced based on her gender identity. She was held for five days by CBP before being processed into the United States and put into ICE custody in San Diego. She was transferred again to another facility three days later on May 16 before her admission to a nearby hospital on May 17. She passed away on May 25. On May 31, HRC called on ICE to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Hernandez’s death.

“The new information released regarding Roxana Hernández’s death is both tragic and deeply disturbing,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “According to both eyewitness accounts and the forensic examiner, Hernández was denied medical treatment for several days, all while suffering severe symptoms that evidently contributed to her worsening condition. Moreover, we are horrified to learn that Hernández’s body showed signs of physical abuse, including beating or kicking across her torso and being tightly handcuffed for an extensive length of time. Despite these shocking revelations, ICE officials have yet to comment on the specifics of the autopsy and refuse to provide further details regarding her death and detainment. HRC joins advocates, including efforts led by the Transgender Law Center, in calling for the full release in all records related to this tragedy to ensure those responsible for these cruel and fatal acts are brought to justice.”

A report released in 2016 by Human Rights Watch detailed the experiences of 28 transgender women who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border between 2011 and 2015, more than of whom were held in men’s facilities at some point in their detention. Others reported being held in solitary confinement, allegedly for their own protection, while many reported experiencing sexual assault and other forms of violence while in detention.

According to information provided by the Department in response to a request by Rep. Kathleen Rice, LGBTQ immigrants are detained twice as long as other immigrants and also face lengthy stays in solitary confinement despite ICE regulations that stipulate its use as a last resort. ICE also reported to Representative Rice that LGBTQ people accounted for only .14 percent of the people detained by ICE in 2017, but made up 12 percent of reported sexual assault and abuse cases.

The Human Rights Campaign stands with coalition partners in demanding the humane treatment of all undocumented immigrants and will not rest while LGBTQ migrants are subjected to horrific treatment based on their sexuality and gender identity.

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