Today, Lambda Legal and a group of organizations that advocate for the rights of people living with HIV, including HIV-affected immigrants, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Lopez Berera v. Holder, urging the Court to grant asylum to a transgender Mexican woman living with HIV/AIDS.
“Growing up in Mexico, Karolina Lopez Berera suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her family and police because of her transgender identity,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. “She fled to the United States to escape that abuse, and immigration officials concede that she was persecuted.”
Espinoza-Madrigal added, “Ms. Lopez Berera has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Notwithstanding her diagnosis and her credible claims of persecution and abuse, the U.S. government is intent on deporting her to Mexico. Her forced removal, in light of rampant HIV stigma, discrimination, and persecution amounts to nothing less than an indirect death sentence.”
The friend-of-the-court brief highlights country condition reports, media accounts, and studies that document the persecution, discrimination and neglect that transgender individuals, especially transgender people living with HIV/AIDS, face in critical HIV-related health care services in Mexico. Since transgender people are often deliberately excluded from access to, and the delivery of, HIV medications, Ms. Lopez Berera will not have access to life-saving medications. In addition, the brief discusses how Ms. Lopez Berera’s HIV status places her in great danger of persecution because people living with HIV in Mexico are frequently the victims of hate crimes.