Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

Credit: @outmagazine / Twitter

Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

Credit: @mghtranshealth / Twitter

While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Entertainment

The Cast of ‘Glee’ Along With Demi Lovato Paid Tribute to Naya Rivera At the GLAAD Awards

Photo via Getty

On Thursday, the cast of “Glee” paid tribute to Naya Rivera at the GLAAD Media Awards. Rivera was a once-in-a-lifetime talent the touched so many lives personally and through the screen while she was alive. But perhaps none of Naya’s roles were as impactful as Santana Lopez was.

This year, GLAAD decided to take time to honor the impact Naya Rivera had on LGBTQ representation onscreen.

During a time when LGBTQ represenation onscreen was rare, Santana Lopez was groundbreaking for being both queer and Latina. Santana went from a shut-off closeted cheerleader to an out-and-proud lesbian woman. This was a story arc many queer kids had never seen before.

Demi Lovato introduced the cast of “Glee” with a touching speech. She described how honored she was (and still is) to have played Santana’s girlfriend, Dani, on the show.

“I don’t have to tell you that this year was a tough, tough year,” Lovato said. “A particular moment of heartbreak stands out for me: losing my friend Naya Rivera. I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya’s girlfriend, Dani, on ‘Glee.’”

“The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls — like I was at the time,” she went on. “And her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world.”

Then, dozens of former “Glee” cast members gathered via Zoom to pay tribute to Naya Rivera.

The tribute featured former “Glee” actors like Darren Criss, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Harry Shum Jr., Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, and Kevin McHale. There were also many others.

“Naya would be honored to receive this recognition,” read the statement. “When Naya was told that Santana would be a lesbian she called me to let me know and I asked her how did she feel about that and she said ‘I feel great about it!'”

“This year marks the tenth anniversary that Naya’s character, Santana Lopez, came out on ‘Glee’,” said Dot-Marie Jones, who played Coach Beast on the Fox series.

“Santana basically got disowned by her family. And as alot of us know, that’s a feeling too many LGBTQ kids know too well,” continued Chris Colfer, who played Kurt Hummel.

The loving tribute then ended with a written statement from Naya Rivera’s mother Yolanda Previtire, who couldn’t make it to the call.

“Little did we know that she would impact so many people in the LGBTQ community. Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice.

“She continued: “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

“Her desire was to always be an advocate to those who did not have a voice,” the message read, in part. “I don’t believe that she realized how important she was to this world. I am grateful that my eldest daughter helped to change the landscape of how we view and see each other.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Tells Senate to Pass Equality Act, Credits Gay Community with Launching Her Music Career

After the Equality Act was recently passed in the House, Selena Gomez is now telling the Senate to pass the bill that would give added federal protections to the LGBTQ+ community. The Mexican-American pop star also talked about her history with the gay community and how they helped support her music career.

The Equality Act would extend protections from the Civil Rights Act to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Equality Act was first introduced in 2015. The bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to extend protections against discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity when it came to employment, housing, education, and other public and federal accommodations. In 2019, the Senate under President Donald Trump refused to vote on the bill.

The Equality Act recently passed through the House and now Gomez wants the Senate to pass it as well.

In February, the Equality Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. The bill passed through the House for a second time on Feb. 25. In a recent interview with the Recording Academy, the institution that hosts the Grammy Awards, Gomez is telling the Senate to vote on the bill this time and pass it through.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years, but we have so much further to go,” Gomez said about the progress of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. “The Senate must pass the Equality Act. It’s absurd that this is even being debated in 2021.”

Gomez says the gay community helped support her 2009 breakthrough hit “Naturally.”

While Gomez was promoting her Latin music EP Revelación, she also revisited a few of her past hits. In 2009, she launched her music career with her band The Scene. Later that year, Gomez got her first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with her breakthrough smash “Naturally.” While talking about her relationship with the gay community, she says they were the first ones to show that song love.

“Earlier you mentioned my song ‘Naturally’ and I remember when it was released, it truly started getting played in the gay bars before anywhere else,” she said. “I would hear from older friends that they heard when they went out. I was so jealous that I was too young to be out and dancing to it with everyone. The LGBTQ+ community has been there for me and I don’t take them for granted.”

The Equality Act is waiting to be debated by the Senate. This is Gomez’s first time speaking in support of the bill. Last year, she launched the Black Equality Fund to support groups like the Movement for Black Lives.  In March, she also asked for the Senate to pass the People Act.

Click here for Latido Music, 24/7 Latin music videos & more

Read: Selena Gomez and Myke Towers’ “Dámelo To’” is Everything: Listen to the ‘Revelación’ Standout

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com