Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wisc.) sent a letter on Thursday to the Department of Homeland Security urging the agency to allow transgender migrants to remain in the U.S. while their asylum cases are processed, rather than being returned to Mexico in accordance with current policy.
Under the recently-introduced Migrant Protection Protocols, the Trump administration requires that asylum-seekers who arrive at the southern border remain in Mexico while their claims are processed through DHS and ICE.
“We…call for DHS to use its discretion to release members of vulnerable populations, including transgender detainees,” Warren and Baldwin wrote in a letter addressed to acting ICE Director Matthew Albence and acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan and obtained by Out.com.
The senators pointed to the “abuse and neglect of transgender migrants and asylum seekers at the border and in U.S. custody” in the letter, and said the administration “must” allow them entry into the U.S. to prevent such treatment.
According current DHS regulations, “individuals from vulnerable populations” may request an exemption from the “Remain in Mexico” rules but transgender migrants rarely benefit from the exemption, according to Warren and Baldwin. In their letter, the pair cite a case in which a transgender asylum-seeker had a finger cut off by a drug cartel in Mexico while she waited for her exemption request to be processed.
Baldwin is the first openly-gay senator in the history of the U.S., and is currently serving her second term.
Warren has released a slew of progressive policy proposals in recent weeks as part of her presidential campaign. In one plan, Warren promises to detain transgender prisoners with inmates of the opposite biological sex, and laid out her support for federally-funded gender transition medical care for transgender inmates.