As It Happens

U.S. appeals court grants transgender Mexican woman asylum

Carey Avendano-Hernandez will be allowed to stay in the U.S. despite her felony DUI conviction. A high court ruled that because Avendano-Hernandez is a transgender woman deporting her to Mexico could lead to more abuse.
Participants march during a Gay Pride Parade in Mexico City, June 27, 2015. Thousands of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights activists participated in the annual parade throughout Mexico City, according to local media. (Edgard Garrido/REUTERS)

Carey Avendano-Hernandez has found safe haven in the United States. After a DUI conviction in 2006, Avendano-Hernandez was deported from the U.S. to Mexico where she says she faced repeated sexual and physical assaults because she is transgender. She fled back to the U.S. and again, authorities tried to deport her. But now, the courts have agreed, that as a trans woman, Avendano-Hernandez is "a conspicuous target for harassment and abuse" in Mexico, and are allowing her to stay.

"I don't believe it that much yet, I'm still emotionally shocked but also I'm happy because I've been waiting for this decision for almost more than a year," Avendano-Hernandez tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

"Now I can stay legally in United States and I can follow in keeping my dreams to come true."

Carey Avendano-Hernandez (Avendano-Hernandez )

Avendano-Hernandez says that when she was deported back to Mexico she feared for her life. She describes the threats and abuse her and her family received from Mexican authorities.

"It was horrible, I don't really like to talk much about it, I just can say this is where I was raped and beat and harassment and a lot of things by cops and military service in Mexico."

She reasons, "I didn't say nothing about it because I fear for my life and my family, because the harassment to do things to my family and kill them if I say something more or press charges."

Avendano-Hernandez decided that her only option was to flee Mexico and again, return to the U.S. to plead her case in immigration court. She brought medical reports from Mexico and showed her physical wounds as evidence. But the judge refused her because of her previous DUI conviction.

"She told me 'I believe you but you do nothing good here and you do not deserve to stay here,'" Avendano-Hernandez recalls.

She adds,"She always refer me as a male."

Avendano-Hernandez says she learned from her mistakes and that she was only drinking to cope with flashbacks from the suffering she experienced in her childhood. Despite the initial ruling, she was determined to fight for her right to asylum. She found a pro bono lawyer and appealed the decision.

Now, almost three years later, she has finally been granted the right to stay.

Last week, a U.S. appeals court ruled that as a trans woman, Avendano-Hernandez cannot be deported to Mexico because she is protected under international anti-torture conventions.

"I was so happy and I was like 'Wow, finally I get justice for myself.'"

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