Things That Matter

While Trans Women Die In Detention Centers, Bamby Salcedo Fights For Her Community With A Determination We Rarely See These Days

Prepare yourself to get familiar with an icon in the making. Bamby Salcedo was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico by a single working mother who tried to protect her daughter from hate. She couldn’t.

Salcedo doesn’t consider herself a victim. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, of drug addiction, of homelessness, of persecution for sex work, of the U.S. prison system. Salcedo has survived a transphobic society and considers it a privilege to work tirelessly for trans rights in an uphill battle with ICE.

Bamby Salcedo is leading the initiative to grant equal rights to detained trans women.

Untitled. Digital Image. Bamby Salcedo. 12 June 2019.

Yet, she tells Latina that she’s “just a pawn in the game.” It’s humbling to learn that Salcedo, often referred to as “La Bamby”, said, “I’m just a piece of the puzzle in the fight for trans rights, especially for trans Latina immigrants.”

La Bamby’s experience of overcoming homelessness, of being imprisoned and addiction has fueled her fire to help others.

@latinxbeauty_ / Twitter

“In my case, being homeless, having to participate in the street economy to survive, being imprisoned, being a drug addict, all of those things I faced,” were all drivers to her activism, she tells Latina. “Then, once I had the privilege and opportunity to change my life, it was me seeing my friends and those close to me that I love to continue to experience these things. A combination of both has driven me to stand up and do something about it.”

La Bamby has become an icon in her own right.

@atribecalledqueer / Twitter

This fan’s artwork depicts her as a blossoming flower, with a halo of tropical flowers. She maintains that while she knows she’s the most recognizable voice of trans Latina immigrants, she shouldn’t be.

“I am very privileged and lucky to be one of the people who gets highlighted often,” she tells Latina. “But more and more trans women immigrants, Latinas, are doing so, too, and I hope seeing me out there is encouraging for them. Sharing one’s story is a truth, and it’s impactful because it helps people understand our issues.”

Bamby’s activism led her to create the TransLatin@ Coalition in 2009.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

Bamby saw a gap in attention for the trans communities. National, trans-led organizations weren’t addressing the issues of Latina immigrants, so she did something about it.

Remember when this flag dropped at the 2018 World Series?

@labamby / Instagram

That was all TransLatin@ Coalition. “I felt my heart was dropping along with it,” she told Huffington Post. “I was kind of exploding because of the adrenaline. You don’t know what’s going to happen with the police and security and all of that.” FOX didn’t air the flag on national television, and the flag waved for a few minutes before they were escorted out.

Last year, TransLatin@ Coalition gifted LA this performance statement during the Pride parade.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

“PRIDE has historically been a protest, not a parade,” @translatinacoalition captions. “And it will continue to be a protest so long as our communities are still suffering from corrupt systems. Let us celebrate our beauty but also acknowledge there is work still to be done! There is no liberation without liberation for all. ‘HOW MANY OF US HAVE TO DIE FOR YOU TO GET INVOLVED?'”

This year, it was censored for calling out the abuse trans women face in ICE detention centers by name.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

“We marched in pride yesterday and brought attention to the state and governmental violence our community continues to face,” the organization posted. “We were censored by both LAPride and ABC7. We were told to put our signs away. Told that we should be celebrating. Pride reminded us that there is so much to be done, even within our own community. But we won’t stop bringing attention to the injustices our community is facing. Okay! #FREEALEJANDRA #JohanaMedina”

Currently, TransLatin@ Coalition is focused on freeing Alejandra Barrera, a trans woman held by ICE since November 2017.

@sonsandbros / Twitter

The campaign petition has received over 26,000 signatures, urging the U.S. government to release Barrera on parole until her next asylum court date. The longer she stays in the detention facility, the higher the risk for sexual abuse and negligent medical care.

TransLatin@ Coalition implements grassroots efforts to gain media coverage for the causes.

@translatinacoalition / Instagram

“Alejandra’s application for a stay of removal was denied for the 5th time with no valid arguments,” TransLatin@ Coalition writes on Instagram as an update to the #FreeAlejandra press conference post. “She can be deported anytime within the next couple of days. We need you all to help us to put pressure on Congress to intervene and stop ICE from potentially sending Alejandra to her death.”

We are in the midst of a week-long campaign to #FreeAlejandra.

@TransLatina_C / Twitter

If Alejandra is deported, she will inevitably be murdered. TransLatin@ Coalition describes Alejandra as “a transgender Latina immigrant who was forced to flee El Salvador due to discrimination and violence, her home country in which she has spent years fighting for respect and dignity of transgender people.”

Before founding TransLatin@ Coalition, she was the Health Education and HIV Prevention Services Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

@NationalNOW / Twitter

Needless to say, Bamby’s life mission has been to provide services to the trans community. She quit her job in 2015 to focus on trans immigrants full time.

Since then, she’s spoken at The White House and helped organize #FamiliesBelongTogether protests.

@labamby / Instagram

Bamby sees her activism as a privilege. She sees her shift in circumstances from homelessness and sex work as a privilege. That’s because, for trans women, it is a privilege when it should be an inherent right.

The issues facing trans women are nuanced and debilitating.

@prideportraits / Instagram

Trans women who flee their countries for fear of violence come to the U.S. for safety. “But things are bad here, too,” she tells Latina. “And we have to resort to the street economy, whether drugs or prostitution, to survive. Then we risk being arrested and turned into ICE, where we are detained and possibly deported. Immigration is one of the main issues impacting us, but it’s also not the only one, and I don’t want to forget that.”

La Bamby is here to fight for all women.

@labamby / Instagram

She celebrated Latina Equal Pay Day like most of our favorite feministas–with a solidarity post that read, “Today is #LatinaEqualPayDay, marking the 10 extra months Latinas must work to make the same amount white men earned last year. The gender pay gap is greatest for Latinas, who get only 54 cents for every $1 a white man makes. This is an injustice. Soy una mujer fenomenal — and I deserve the entire dollar! We’re not 54% phenomenal. We bring 100% every day & it’s time we make 100%.”

She just might be the Selfie Queen.

@labamby / Instagram

Her personal Instagram feed is a fabulous stream of selfies. Most of the captions describe what event she is going to, like this one: “On my way to bring my #TransLatinaPower to #northcarolina#deepsouth I’m going deep!! #freealejandra”

She also seems to have a healthy sense of humor.

@labamby / Instagram

This classic Strategy Selfie is captioned, “Que disque high class … #transocupayingspace con @life_as_a_queen” ????

And she’ll take every single opportunity to talk about the cause.

@labamby / Instagram

La Bamby ran into John Legend and California’s Surgeon General Nadine Burke Harris and took the opportunity to “bring your #TransLatinaPower to highlight #transissues.” ????????????

Unsurprisingly, her story has been captured in documentary format for your leisurely viewing.

@NewVoicesPgh / Twitter

Peruvian Director Dante Alencastre gifted the world “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story” and the world noticed. The film has received Long Beach’s QFilm Festival “Best Documentary” award.

There’s no question: Bamby Salcedo is the revolutionary that will push trans rights to the next level.

@TransEquality / Twitter

To do that, she’s going deep into the murky systems of ICE and making sure to keep every detained trans woman accountable. Nobody else is doing it.

READ: Check Out These 9 Trans Activists On Instagram As They Fight For Justice And Equality

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President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

Things That Matter

President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

January 22, 2021

The Trump administration spent years trying to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era program was important in helping young undocumented adults who came to the country when they were children. President Joe Biden has restored it.

President Joe Biden has restored DACA to its original 2012 form.

President Biden was with President Obama when DACA was passed to protect the young adults who benefit from the program. President Biden’s executive order is giving hundreds of thousands of young adults protections and the ability to work once again.

“This memorandum, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidance, deferred the removal of certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have obeyed the law, and stayed in school or enlisted in the military,” reads the memorandum posted on the White House website. “DACA and associated regulations permit eligible individuals who pass a background check to request temporary relief from removal and to apply for temporary work permits. DACA reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns and other considerations and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.”

Original: During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Things That Matter

Recognizing Its Diversity Issue, Argentina Is Working To Add More Transgender Workers To Its Labor Force

Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images

Argentina has long been a progressive bastion in Latin America. It was one of the first countries in the region to allow same-sex marriage and also has anti-discrimination laws in many cities. It’s also been a beacon of hope for the transgender community, with the government long allowing individuals to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex.

However, transgender workers still face immense discrimination and that has left a reported 95% of the community without formal employment. To help try and address this issue, the nation’s leaders have instituted a program to ensure that at least 1% of the workforce is made up of trans workers. It’s an ambitious task but the government is already making progress.

Argentina launched a program to ensure better transgender representation in the workforce.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández signed a decree in September establishing a 1 percent employment quota for transgender people in the public sector. The law went into effect on January 1 and its aim is to bring more trans workers into the formal economy.

According to Argentina’s LGBTQ community, 95 percent of transgender people do not have formal employment, with many forced to work in the sex industry where they face violence.

“If all the institutions implemented the trans quota, it would change a lot for many of my colleagues. It would change the quality of their lives and they would not die at 34, or 40, which is their life expectancy today,” Angeles Rojas, who recently landed a job at a national bank, told NBC News.

There are no official figures on the size of the transgender community in Argentina, since it was not included in the last 2010 census. But LGBTQ organizations estimate there are 12,000 to 13,000 transgender adults in Argentina, which has a population topping 44 million.

Few countries in the world are stepping up to help trans workers quite like Argentina.

Argentina has long prided itself on its progressive policies. The nation was one of the first in the Americas to recognize same-sex unions and several cities have anti-discrimination laws aimed at protecting the LGBTQ community.

In 2012, Argentina adopted an unprecedented gender identity law allowing transgender people to choose their self-perceived identity regardless of their biological sex. The law also guarantees free access to sex-reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatments without prior legal or medical consent.

Worldwide, only neighboring Uruguay has a comparable quota law promoting the labor inclusion of transgender people. And a law such as this one has the potential to greatly impact the lives of transgendered Argentinians.

Despite the program, transgender people still face enormous challenges in Argentina.

A recent report by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People published in December said “the vast majority of trans women in the region have sex work as their sole economic and subsistence livelihood.”

It goes on to say: In Latin America and the Caribbean transgender people have their right to work violated along with all their human rights, and this takes place “in a context of extreme violence.”

Despite legal protections, Argentina’s trans community remains at risk. Many of the country’s trans citizens live in the Gondolín, a building in the Buenos Aires’ Palermo neighborhood, for protection and strength in numbers.

There have been advances in Argentina. This year, Diana Zurco became the first transgender presenter of Argentine television news, Mara Gómez was authorized by the Argentine Football Association to play in the professional women’s league and soprano María Castillo de Lima was the first transgender artist to go on stage at Teatro Colón.

However, the gap between the equality established by law and the real one remains large, warned Ese Montenegro, a male transgender activist hired as an adviser to the Chamber of Deputies’ women’s and diversity commission.

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