A majority of those that have been deported from the United States to Mexico say that it feels strange to be in a place they haven’t lived in for most of their lives. They say they feel lost because they don’t know anyone in Mexico and they certainly are confused about how to start a life there.
There is one place, however, that is opening its doors with welcoming encouragement: Pinche Gringo.
A restaurant in Mexico City is hiring people that have been deported from the U.S.
The food severed is typical American barbecue and has become a popular establishment in town. Their desire to hire deportees is giving those sent back to Mexico with nothing a chance to make ends meet.
Thirty-year-old Miguel Martinez says making the transition back to Mexico was very tough for him.
It is the right, under the constitution, of state and local governments, including law enforcement, to refuse to cooperate with federal law. In other words, if the federal government issues a mandate, local officials do not have to comply. That is why some cities abide by Sanctuary policies to protect undocumented immigrants that are being persecuted by government agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, ICE isn’t bowing down to the constitution and is taking matters to the courts.
Earlier this week, Homeland Security has issued a subpoena to Denver law enforcement to get information on three Mexican nationals and one Honduran who were previously in custody.
“Since we have no cooperation at the Denver justice center, we are modifying our tactics to produce information,” Henry Lucero, deputy executive associate director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, said, according to the Associated Press.
According to the AP, Denver officials have 14 days to respond to the subpoena in three of the cases, but in the other, they have three days to respond. ICE officials allege that all four foreign nationals have been in jail for sexual assault and child abuse and have been previously deported.
“In the past, we had full support. We collaborated in the interest of public safety,” Lucero added. “This is a drastic change. And one ICE is forced to do and puts other agencies on notice that we don’t want this to happen. We want to protect the public.”
Officials at the Denver mayor’s office said they would not comply with the demands of ICE because the paperwork issued by ICE are not proper subpoenas but rather administrative forms and not legal document signed by a judge.
“The documents appear to be a request for information related to alleged violations of civil immigration law,” Chad Sublet, Senior Counsel to the Department of Safety in Denver, wrote, according to Time magazine. “Based on these facts, we are denying your request.”
Despite the support of local officials of Sanctuary policies, the majority of those cities have been struck by ICE as they have conducted numerous raids there, including in Denver.
Cities including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago all have protections in place for undocumented people, but that has only fueled ICE to conduct raids there and elsewhere. Last year in September, ICE conducted raids in Colorado and Wyoming and, within four days, arrested 42 undocumented immigrants.
“It is our belief that state sanctuary policies [do] not keep the community safe,” John Fabbricatore, the acting director of the Denver ICE field office, said last year, according to KDVR news.
“We don’t believe deportation is ever the answer to what criminal activity might be going on,” Jordan García, with the Colorado Rapid Response Network, said in response to the raids.
In 2017, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock signed a law that stated law officials would not comply with ICE in any capacity.
The Denver Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act was first signed unanimously by the Denver City Council, which was then signed by Mayor Hancock. The mandate “bans city officials from asking an arrested individual’s immigration status.”
While some city officials have prohibited the collaboration between local officials and federal agencies, that has not stopped some from working with ICE to arrest undocumented immigrants.
Last year in September, the Milwaukee Police Department assisted ICE agents in the detainment of a local resident who was undocumented. Even though Milwaukee does not have a Sanctuary policy in place, Police Chief Morales had previously said a year before they would not collaborate with ICE.
“I promised to bring back the public trust,” Morales said in 2018. “My job is to bring (back) trust from the community and work with them; my job is not to go out and enforce those types of laws.”
Those statements are why people were outraged that local Milwaukee officers assisted ICE in the detainment of an undocumented father.
Trans rights in Latin America are an uphill and often heroic battle. Conservative social norms and Catholicism, both of which are generally dogmatic when it comes to any sexual or gender diversity, has shaped Mexican society into a mostly CIS-gendered, patriarchy-led society. However, there are promising signs that long-lasting change could be near and that Mexican culture could shift the tide towards a legal and everyday framework in which rights are respected.
Trans women in particular are vulnerable to discrimination, verbal abuse and physical violence.
Mexico is almost as dangerous as Brazil for trans women.
As the Associated Press reports: “Mexico has become the world’s second deadliest country after Brazil for transgender people, with 261 transgender women slain in 2013-2018, according to a recent study by the LGBTQ rights group Letra S.”
This is just appaling, as is the fact that most crimes go unpunished and that corruption in the Kaflaesque Mexican bureaucracy often leads to even more instances of abuse and trauma for the victims. The Associated Press reported late last year: “Like most crime in Mexico, nearly all such slayings go unsolved and unpunished — less than 3% of the killings of LGBTQ members have resulted in convictions since 2013. So transgender community leaders and activists are largely on their own in pursuing long-denied justice.” And remember there is no peace without justice.
Trans activists in Mexico City shut down the city’s busiest road to protest the killing of a community member.
El Periférico is one of the busiest roads in the world. Around 20 trans activists blocked it while carrying a coffin. They were protesting the killing of Paola Buenrostro in 2016. The authorities, activists claim, have done close to nothing to solve the case. They blocked El Periférico after delivering documents to the National Human Rights Commission. As CE Noticias Financieras notes, the letter states that: “It accuses the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City (now the Prosecutor’s Office) of not recognizing the gender identity of the victim and Kenya Citlali Cuevas Fuentes, an indirect victim of the crime, as well as of discriminating them against them for being trans women and sex workers. They also noted that they failed to investigate with a gender perspective, negligence in the imputation within the initial hearing, raising evidence and chain of custody, among other misconduct.”
Paola’s friend, the aforementioned Kenya Cuevas, is leading the protest. She was there when Kenya was shot and she was close to experiencing the same fatal fate. Even though Kenya was actually there the authorities did not validate her first-hand testimony. The case turned cold and no one has been blamed for the transfeminicide.
Kenya Cuevas herself got into the coffin to stand for murdered trans and CIS women.
Sometimes the best way to fight for a cause is to be daring and doing things that can have a strong visual and symbolic impact. That is what trans rights activist Kenya Cuevas did by laying inside a coffin in broad daylight. It was a brutal image to remember. Paola’s legacy also lives on through a house for trans women in need set up under her name: this house helps trans women escape drugs and sex work that they might not want to engage in for any other reason other than survival. Kenya’s message while blocking El Peri (as the freeway is commonly known) was clear: “We are tired of being unseen, tired of being violent, tired of not being given us opportunities to succeed, we also support our families. We too are awaited by our relatives and no one cares”. We hear you, reinas hermosas!
The protest was successful and the women were granted a meeting with the Attorney’s office in Mexico City.
The protest only lasted ten minutes, but in a road as busy as El Periférico that feels like an eternity. Things got tense between drivers and activists. The police arrived and escorted the trans women to meet with Mexico City’s Attorney General Ernestina Godoy. If we measure activism by the success of their actions in terms of real political change, which can amount to having your voice heard, then we can argue that these trans women made a breakthrough that would probably not have been made without altering the public order.
And that’s what some people, mainly dudes but also some CIS women, do not understand: that trans women and feminists have to resort to methods that might be deemed as extreme, such as painting public monuments and stopping traffic. In the case of Paola’s murder, almost four years went by without the authorities being able or willing to have any developments on the case. Without becoming a real threat and momentarily disrupting traffic flow in Mexico City’s main artery, perhaps they would have never been heard.
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