Activists are demanding that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) release a trans woman detained earlier this summer in Arizona.
Naomi Ramirez Rosales, a 34-year-old Mexican-American trans woman, was arrested in Phoenix on July 5 while standing at a light rail platform, as Phoenix News reports. She and an unidentified second person had walked over to the part of the platform for riders who have paid a fare in order to drink from a water fountain in that area, according to Karla Bautista, a Liberation Coordinator with Trans Queer Pueblo. The two were stopped by a police assistant, who arrested Ramirez after running a background check and discovering that she had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on two counts of assault.
Ramirez was booked at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office where she was interviewed by ICE. (Everyone detained at this jail is interviewed by ICE, according to Phoenix News.) She was then transferred to ICE custody and transported from the Maricopa County jail to La Palma Correctional Center, a men’s prison in Eloy — more than 60 miles away from Phoenix.
Speaking at an Aug. 26 demonstration organized by Trans Queer Pueblo, Bautista said that Ramirez could be deported to Mexico despite having lived in the United States for most of her life.
“She’s facing deportation to Mexico, a country that she doesn’t even know because she’s been here since she was five years old,” Bautista said at a Monday afternoon demonstration, which was held at the same Phoenix light rail station where Ramirez was arrested in July. “Her case is not unique. As a migrant community, we live in fear of riding the light rail because we know that the security is going to be asking us for our tickets and the police are going to criminalize us.”
Ramirez’s mother, Maria Teresa, also spoke at the demonstration, expressing fear and concern over what will happen to her daughter in detention and beyond.
“I’m really sad because Naomi was always with me, is always with me,” she said. “I don’t know what to do now that she’s detained, and I don’t know what she will do if she’s deported to Mexico. She doesn’t even know Mexico, and I’m worried that if she’s deported to Mexico she’s not going to be accepted for her gender identity and who she is.”
Twenty-four people have died in ICE custody since Donald Trump took office, including Roxsana Hernández and Johana Medina Leon, two Central American trans women migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I just want them to release Naomi so she can be with me again,” Maria Teresa said in closing. “We must keep going ahead and fighting.”