Five trans and queer immigrant activists were arrested on Tuesday morning after blocking an intersection in front of the Santa Ana City Jail for more than an hour. The activists chained themselves to a metal cage to call attention to the city of Santa Ana’s contract with federal immigration authorities, which organizers say “imprisons trans and queer people in abusive conditions.”
The Santa Ana Jail opened in 1997 and was targeted by the activists because it has contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“We came together to fight for marriage and now are leaving our immigrant brothers and sisters behind,” said Laura Kenter, 50, who was arrested Tuesday. “The progress of the LGBT struggle for equality, including marriage, is meaningless until every person is seen as fully human and treated with dignity and respect.”
Among those arrested was Ramiro Alexis Gonzalez, 21, who wore 7-inch heels to the protest, a fashion choice intended to be a political statement.
Ramiro Alexis Gonzalez being arrested by Santa Ana police officers. (Photo: Marcos Nieves)
"The protest was about raising visibility of our LGBT community and this just felt like the right outfit," Gonzalez told Fusion. “Heels have been a staple in my closet since high school and it's my way of expressing my gender identity and my way of challenging the norm and queering things.”
There at least 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., according to a 2013 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA. Relative to all undocumented immigrants, LGBT undocumented immigrants are more likely to be male and are younger. About 71 percent of undocumented LGBT adults in the U.S. are Latino and 15 percent are Asian or Pacific Islanders.
All five arrestees were bailed out of jail by Tuesday evening, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.