My colleagues and I are urgently trying to raise $3,000 to get a young gay Mexican man released from detention, where he's being beaten and abused by other inmates. More details follow:
Jose is a 21 year old gay Mexican who is currently detained by U.S. immigration authorities in Chicago. When Jose was 15, a close relative abducted him and forced him into sexual slavery in a brothel in Mexico. For two years, Jose's abusers drugged him and forced him to perform sexual acts with an average of five "clients" per day. Jose escaped when a friend visited the brothel and took pity on him. Jose lived in hiding in various locations throughout Mexico for the next couple years, and was eventually able to flee to the United States in 2007.
Jose was recently apprehended by the immigration authorities and he is now detained in the gym of an over-crowded prison, sharing a space with 50 other men, most of whom come from Latin American countries. Recently, Jose has been threatened by other inmates because of his sexuality. This morning, Jose was attacked by another inmate without provocation. Jose is traumatized and he is now living in fear of further attacks while he is in detention.
Jose is now applying for asylum. U.S. law recognizes sexual orientation as a grounds for asylum, and Jose's lawyers at Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center believe he has a strong chance of success. Unfortunately, the law mandates the continued detention of asylum-seekers like Jose, and requires a bond to secure their release. Jose's bond has been set at $3,000, an amount he is unable to pay. Jose has no family in the U.S., and his family in Mexico has rejected him for being gay. Heartland Alliance is seeking donations for a revolving loan fund (to be repaid by Jose) to secure Jose's release from detention. Donations are tax-deductible, and will contribute to a fund for especially vulnerable asylum seekers. Any funds contributed for Jose release will, in the future, be used to obtain the release of other individuals fleeing persecution on account of their sexual orientation.
Checks made out to Heartland Alliance can be sent to my attention (memo: Urgent Asylum Seeker Release Fund) at the address below. Please forward this appeal to others who might be able to help, as well. We hope to raise these funds by the end of this week to move Jose to safety as quickly as possible.
Coordinator, Global Equality Network
Director, Global HIV Initiatives
208 S. LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Wednesday, 18 March 2009