Today, 5 trans and queer immigrant activists were arrested in front of the Santa Ana City Jail where transgender immigrant detainees are held, blocking the intersection at the entrance of the jail while chained to a metal cage, surrounded by rainbow flags and a banner that read “Liberation Not Deportation, Obama is the Deporter in Chief.” Amidst chants of “Don’t Stop at Marriage, Trans and Queers are Being Deported,” “Come Out, Fight Back,” and “Obama, Obama, Don’t Deport Another Transhermana,” the activists protested to demand justice for the more than 267,000 LGBTQ immigrants living in the U.S., an end to the Obama Administration’s deportations, and call for the city to cut its contract with ICE.
The Santa Ana Police Department reported that “LGBTQ and Immigrant Rights groups protested today at 8:10 AM. The group of approximately 100 protesters set up a chain link fenced cage in the middle of the intersection of Civic Center and Boyd Way, completely blocking the intersection. Inside the chain link fenced cage, four protesters chained themselves to the fence. The 5th protester was chained to the outside fencing.”
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One of those arrested was Ronny Veliz, a queer migrant of faith and public health organizer who grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He says, “This is what our community faces every day- this cage. I am risking arrest because my family values, faith, and roots will not allow me to remain silent or delay justice, so we need to abolish the criminalization, dehumanization of LGBTQ people, the prisons, and detention systems.”
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The Obama administration has deported a record number of more than 2 million people, including many LGBTQ undocumented immigrants. Despite President Obama’s continued call for immigration reform and the current DHS review underway looking to revise deportation policy, undocumented queer and trans immigrants living in the United States continue to be persecuted by inhumane immigration enforcement policies, including discriminatory practices based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Laura Kanter, 50, a LGBTQ Rights advocate from Santa Ana, CA, who was also arrested today, says, “The disproportionate, inhumane and unjust criminalization, detention and deportation of Queer and in particular Trans* immigrants is part of a larger industrialized system of profit and power that must be abolished. We came together to fight for marriage and now are leaving our Immigrant brothers and sisters behind – and by doing so – are contributing to the same systems of power that oppress all of us. The progress of the LGBT struggle for equality, including marriage, is meaningless until every person is seen as fully human and treated with dignity and respect.”
The SAPD also reported that “For the safety of the protesters, SAPD had to block all traffic on Civic Center from Flower to Bristol. SAPD officials met with protesters and requested they clear the intersection and protest in a lawful manner without impeding traffic. The group refused to comply, at which time a lawful order for the group to clear the intersection was given. All but five individuals complied with officers lawful orders. The five non-compliant protesters were arrested and booked into the Santa Ana Police Department Jail for CPC 409 Failure to Disperse from an Unlawful Assembly. All five arrestees have bailed out of jail.”
1. Ramiro Alexis Gonzalez (21) Laguna Hills
2. Isaias Celestina Noycola (35) Vallejo
3. Laura Willa Kanter (50) Irvine
4. Ronald Veliz (30) Mission Hills
5. Steve Salinas Zamarripa (29) Santa Ana
Video footage is available here.