Quantcast
Connect with us

Trans activist detained in Arizona and threatened with deportation due to bureaucratic catch-22

Published

on

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Indian-born transgender rights activist Nina Chaubal has been detained by immigration authorities and threatened with imminent deportation. She is currently being held in an Arizona Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility notorious for its mistreatment of LGBT detainees.

Raw Story spoke to Greta Martela — Chaubal’s partner and co-founder of TransLifeline, an 800-number for trans people in crisis — who explained that because of a bureaucratic muddle, Chaubal has been unable to complete the naturalization process. These types of catch-22 situations are all too common for transgender people as they attempt to negotiate the many layers of red tape involved in changing one’s gender.

ADVERTISEMENT

Martela and Chaubal are in the process of moving from Chicago to California. They were passing through Arizona on Wednesday, Dec. 28 on a return trip to Chicago when they encountered an immigration checkpoint. When asked if everyone in the car was a U.S. citizen, Martela told them that Chaubal is from India.

However, it was when Border Patrol officers saw Chaubal’s passport — upon which she is still identified as male — that the situation became tense and uncomfortable.

“She hasn’t had her gender changed on her Indian passport,” said Martela by phone, sounding anxious and exhausted. “So they started low-key giving her shit about being trans, but eventually they said, ‘We’re going to take her to Wellton, Arizona’ — this was the Border Patrol — ‘and hand her over to ICE and then we’re going to put her in front of a judge and try to deport her.'”

Chaubal is currently undocumented because her marriage to Martela has not been legally ratified. Martela needs to provide record of her divorce in 1990. However, the California records bureau that would ordinarily provide that verification lost years of documents in the transfer from paper to electronic records, Martela said.

“The woman I got divorced from is now deceased,” she explained, leaving the pair in legal limbo until they can obtain documentation by some other means.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chaubal came to the U.S. in 2009 as a student before going to work for Google. Now, the two have devoted themselves full-time to activism and providing direct aid to fellow members of the trans community.

Their life together is currently in jeopardy, however, as Chaubal could be deported at any time to a country she has not called home in seven years and where she faces prosecution under India’s colonial-era anti-LGBT laws.

Over the last two days, Chaubal was transferred from a holding facility in Wellton to an ICE detention center in Eloy, AZ that is known for its abusive treatment of LGBT detainees.

ADVERTISEMENT

Martela said she was able to get Chaubal her medications and a note with the number of a local immigration attorney before the transfer, but was not permitted to see or speak to her.

On Friday morning, two days after the arrest, the two were finally allowed to speak by phone for a tearful two minutes.

ADVERTISEMENT

“She was crying, she was very upset,” said Martela. “She’s asking for asylum. It’s actually illegal to be gay in India and gay marriages aren’t recognized.”

“So now we’re trying to get her immediate release or to get her transferred to a facility in Santa Ana which is supposed to be better,” Martela said.

It’s frustrating, she said, because “there’s very little information coming out of the system.”

ADVERTISEMENT

To track a detainee, you can only get information online and only then if you have access to that person’s “A-number” or alien number.

Martela said she’s waiting in Yuma for Chaubal’s documents to arrive from Chicago via overnight mail. Once they arrive, she hopes to find Chaubal’s A-number among them.

“Then we can go online and find out what’s going on in Eloy,” Martela said.

“We’re going to make as much noise as we can,” she said, heaving a shaky sigh. “We’re getting help from the Transgender Law Center and lots of other kinds of activists are helping us but we need people to make enough noise that they either release or transfer her.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“If people make enough noise,” she said, “it lets them know they can’t f*ck with her. If they f*ck with her, they’re risking their jobs, so we’re trying to make some noise, trying to keep her safe until we can get her out.”

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Raging New York man screams racial slurs as he chases Black woman’s car

Published

on

An upstate New York man was charged with a hate crime after he chased a Black woman and her boyfriend shouting racial slurs.

Athina Mitchell and Charles Wilkinson were looking for a new fishing spot they'd heard about Sunday in Plattsburgh when an angry white man approached their car shouting, reported WPTZ-TV.

"Here n*gger, n*gger, n*gger," the man said, as if calling to her like a dog.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘They’re all laughing at you’: Trump mocked after both of his SCOTUS picks rule against him on taxes

Published

on

President Donald Trump faced a stinging defeat on Thursday after the United States Supreme Court ruled that he cannot block a subpoena for his financial records from New York County District Attorney Cy Vance.

What made the decision particularly notable was the fact that both of President Trump's picks for the Supreme Court -- Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh -- ruled against him in the case.

Given that Trump has made his nominations of SCOTUS justices a cornerstone of his 2020 reelection campaign, many Twitter users pounced on the news to mock the president's loss at the hands of his own Supreme Court picks.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Rapper fatally shot while ‘walking away’ by California security guard after dispute over face mask

Published

on

A California security guard is facing murder charges after allegedly shooting a 1990s-era rapper while "walking away" after a dispute over face masks.

CNN reported that 50-year-old Jerry Lewis was killed by Umeir Corniche Hawkins at a market in Southern California on July 5.

A dispute occurred between the two men because Lewis was reportedly not wearing a mask.

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Hawkins shot Lewis in the back as he walked away after the two had multiple encounters over the face mask.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image