Following Deportation, Transgender Woman Lives in Constant Danger

Written by Rebecca Leber

Deborah Alvarez first arrived to the U.S. when she was 13, where she lived for 17 years. Deported for a low-level crime — prostitution solicitation — in 2005, she was forced to return to a country that she feels threatened in because she is transgender.

Since her deportation in 2005, Alvarez has been shot by rubber bullets during a police raid on transgender sex workers, continues to receive threats and slurs, and will not go outside alone. In Mexico, Alvarez was left with few job options; she says her only option initially was sex work because “No trans girl can find work in Juarez.”

Alvarez’s story is one of many faced by Mexican LGBT migrants, according to a report from Amy Lieberman for Women eNews. The Mexican National Institute of Public Health found that more than one-third of transgender migrants in shelters in Mexico experience violence and abuse. Outside of shelters, the rate of abuse is even higher.

While LGBT immigrants have been able to seek U.S. asylum for two decades, less than 2 percent of Mexican migrants who applied are granted asylum. One reason why is because detained immigrants are often left to navigate immigration courts alone, where they sign papers and testify often with no or limited knowledge of English or U.S. customs.

The pattern of abuse begins well before immigrants return to their native countries, since U.S. detention facilities have fielded allegations of sexual abuse, denial of medical treatment and forcing long-term solitary confinement for LGBT immigrants.

These dangers aren’t always unique to the LGBT community, showing how deportation practices do not typically account for the perils immigrants face in their native countries. According to the American Prospect in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, one in five deportees are repatriated in the middle of the night, and 39 percent of the time they lack any of their personal belongings, money or ID. Tamaulipas, meanwhile, has the highest rate of kidnapping in Mexico and is overrun by drug-trafficking.

Even though the Obama administration has promised to prioritize criminal deportations, the vast majority of deportees are charged with low-level offenses ranging from driving violations to charges like Alvarez’s prostitution solicitation, forced to return to a country that does not necessarily welcome them.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress.

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Danuta Watola
Danuta W4 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Amanda S.
Amanda S4 years ago

On a separate note: Prostitution should NOT be illegal for healthy, consenting adults to engage in should they wish to do so.
We should consider how other countries have legalized and managed openly permitting this profession.
Prostitution always has and always will take place, despite whether it was legal to do so or not.
In the VIP of some strip club - it is occurring right at this moment.
At this moment, there is a person conversing at the bar about "how much" and "where" they can go to engage in it.
Right now, there is a young man or woman being instructed by their escort agency employer to do to an address to "entertain" or "provide companionship" to a paying client.
Tonight, no matter where in the U.S you reside, someone is providing a sexual favor to another person for a nice dinner they received or a gift that was provided.
I could go on and on...
What is the point of arresting these people? Aren't our jails, courts, and prisons jammed with persons charged with petty crimes that carry in-proportionately high penalties?
Legalize the industry, regulate it ONLY for the safety of those involved in it, and let that be that. Same goes for marijuana.

Amanda S.
Amanda S4 years ago

It should be noted that the transgendered person in this unfortunate story was arrested in the United States for breaking our laws of prostitution.
A TG persons career and job opportunities differ here in the U.S.
She had other employment options besides being a prostitute, but chose to stick to her familiar profession.
In Mexico, her employment opportunities are indeed, bleak. But she wasn't arrested for prostituting in Mexico, She was arrested for prostituting here.

I find it unusual that our prisons are PACKED with a large population of violent, illegal-immigrant criminals. Why aren't they deported? Why her?

Amanda S.
Amanda S4 years ago

This is not America's fault. It is NOT our problem. We do not OWE those people who are being abused and discriminated against in their own country ANYTHING.
Yes, what is happening there is wrong. Yes, it's unfortunate. Yes, something needs to be done to change the conditions there.
But read: It's NOT our obligation to do so.
Aren't we already critized and hated around the world for our tendency to invade other countries and handle their affairs... like we're some kind of "world police".
Doing so has gotten us in trouble in the past.
Urge Mexico to address the issue. Urge Mexico to make their own changes so that this mistreatment stops. That's all we can do and all that we should do.

Mexican TG's should be advised and supported by interested American parties on their need to unite and effectively handle issue on their own.

Matt Peake
Matt Peake4 years ago


Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert4 years ago

Sad Case this...

Aurea Walker

Wish I could press a button to send stars at the same time. A lot of comments show empathy, understanding and caring. But for those who want to go with the "alien" status and how Latinos are making America broke etc...... You have NO idea how much worse things would be without the slavery/Latinos working to keep the America infrastructure going. Living in Los Angeles, Ca. I see it EVERYWHERE! It truly is nothing nice. Ms. Alvarez committed a crime, prostitution how is that any different from our politicians who whore themselves out daily? David Vintner is still in office (probably with a diaper under his suit) and had no legal ramifications, same thing for so many other of our politicians of either party? Prostritution is a two party CRIME yet it is the prostitute who pays fines and jail time, the johns do not. So where is the crime? But let's take it further into Christian beliefs. If I as a straight woman am made in the image of god how can there be straight white men? Or could it be that god is STRAIGHT, GAY, BISEXUAL OR TRANSGENDER? OR HECK MAYBE GOD IS THE COLOR OF THE RAINBOW? We come in many colors, sizes, shapes and gender preference? God in my book of life is about love, understanding and acceptance!

j A4 years ago

Such a disconnect from any normal standard of human rights

Valarie Snell
Valarie Snell4 years ago