Transgender Woman Slain In El Salvador After Deportation From U.S., Officials Didn’t Believe She Was In Danger

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A transgender woman, who was deported from the United States and sent back to her native El Salvador, was murdered shortly after arriving, a killing that has attracted worldwide attention and criticism for U.S. officials for not heeding the woman’s plea for help.

A trans advocacy group in El Salvador announced that the woman, known as both Aurora and Camila, went missing at the end of January. After members of Asociación Aspidh Arcoiris Trans launched a search for the woman, they eventually found her in the Rosales National Hospital in San Salvador where she was taken after suffering a number of injuries from an attack. Camila died on February 3, the Washington Blade reported.

As a spokesperson for an LGBTQ advocacy group told the newspaper, Camila had tried to tell U.S. officials that she was in great danger if she was sent back to her native country.

“She migrated to the U.S. because of threats that she had received, but she was deported because they didn’t believe her,” Aislinn Odaly told the Blade.

The woman’s death has prompted worldwide media coverage and led to criticism for the Trump administration for its treatment of transgender persons. The National Center for Transgender Equality has been critical of actions Trump has taken to strip rights from trans people, including taking protection away from people seeking asylum because of their gender identity.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions ruled that the federal government would no longer recognize gang violence or domestic violence as grounds for asylum, adopting a legal interpretation that could lead to rejecting most LGBT asylum-seekers,” the report noted.

It appeared to be on those grounds that Camila was not allowed to remain in the United States. There has been a spate of violence against transgender people in El Salvador, leading the United Nations to call for an investigation into crimes against sexual minorities there. As NBC News reported, local LGBTQ organizations said that 17 transgender people were murdered through the first four months of 2017, and 25 were killed in 2016.

Many of these transgender people were targeted by local gangs, with one activist saying gang members demanded money and threatened her, forcing her to flee her home six times in two years. Many people seeking to escape the violence in El Salvador and other Latin American countries fled to the United States to seek asylum, only to find it more difficult to make a case based on threats of gang violence.