National Week of Action Calling for Release of Transgender Asylum Seeker

Mar 2, 2015
10:01 PM

We received the following released this weekend, and we would like to share it (we also added photos from today’s action in Phoenix):


National Week of Action calling for release of transgender asylum seeker from abusive immigration detention center
What: #FreeNicoll National Week of Action
When: Monday March 2 through Thursday March 5
Where: Phoenix, AZ – Washington DC – Los Angeles, CA – New York City (more information below)

A growing national movement calling for the end of detention of LGBTQ immigrants and the release of Nicoll Hernández-Polanco (A089-841-464) will be escalating the week of March 2nd-5th. Nicoll is a Guatemalan transgender woman currently detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an all-male ICE facility in Florence, AZ. Nicoll presented herself to border patrol agents at the United States border in October 2014 and immediately requested asylum after suffering nearly a decade of sexual and physical violence in Guatemala and Mexico because of her gender identity. Instead of finding safety, Nicoll has experienced continual sexual harassment and abuse for being a transgender woman at the hands of ICE staff and other detained immigrants.

Nicoll’s experience is very typical for immigrant trans women in detention. As recently reported by Fusion, although transgender women make up only 1 out of every 500 detainees, they make up a shocking 1 out of every 5 substantiated cases of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities.

Even though a Tucson-based LGBTQ community group, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, is assisting Nicoll and is willing to house and care for her during her asylum case, ICE has refused to release her. ICE claims that her past deportations when she was an unaccompanied minor trying to flee transphobic violence render her a priority for detention under President Obama’s recent immigration executive action announcement.

Karolina López, a formerly detained trans woman stated, “I know perfectly well the detention conditions Nicoll is experiencing and it can only be summarized in one word: inhumane.” Viviana Serrano added, “As a trans woman in detention, I was once in Nicoll’s shoes. This is why I know the urgency in getting her released now. We demand her immediate release because ICE is incapable of ever providing her with a safe environment.”

Isa Noyola, Program Manager at Transgender Law Center, concluded, “Our communities are rallying together demanding her release and an end to immigration detention for all transgender women.”

Nicoll is receiving support from LGBTQ and Migrant Rights groups throughout the nation, including: Arcoiris Liberation Team, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Arizona Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, Transgender Law Center, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, CA Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, the TransLatin@ Coalition, Gender Justice LA, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, GetEqual, Casa Ruby, United We Dream, Yaya Network, Audre Lorde Project, and many others.

Calendar for #FreeNicoll National Week of Action

Action from Phoenix

Tuesday March 3
Rally at ICE Headquarters
500 12th St. SW
Washington, DC 20536

GetEqual, Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project of United We Dream, Casa Ruby

Contact: H Kapp-Klote,; Luis Garcia,; Carlos Padilla.

Wednesday March 4
Rally at Metropolitan Detention Center
180 N Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Familia: Trans/Queer Liberation Movement, Translatina Coalition, Gender Justice LA, California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), Los Angeles Immigrant Youth Coalition, GetEQUAL

Contact: Yesenia Valdez,

Thursday March 5
Rally at New York ICE ERO Field Office
26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278
Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
Contact: Jamila Hammami, jamila@qdep.rg

Link to petition asking ICE to immediately release Nicoll:

To ask permission for interview with Nicoll, ICE contact is:
Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe – Public Affairs Officer/Spokesperson- (602) 766-7030