Nearly three dozen members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday morning expressing their concern over the agency’s treatment of transgender detainees and demanding the agency take transgender migrants’ asylum claims more seriously, NBC News reported.
The letter, sent by 34 lawmakers and spearheaded by Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., was signed by Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Deb Haaland, D-N.M., and Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., among others and comes after the deaths of two transgender women who were held in detention.
In their message, the lawmakers said, “We urge ICE to seriously consider the asylum claims of transgender migrants who demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution based on their ‘membership in a particular social group’ and adhere to its own policies regulating the treatment of transgender detainees.”
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The letter stressed ICE should especially consider asylum claims coming from the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where “violence against the transgender community occurs at alarming rates.” In one study conducted by the UN Refugee Agency, 88 percent of LGBTQ asylum seekers fleeing the Northern Triangle reported experiencing sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin.