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Ga. Immigration Court Denies Asylum For Transgender Woman

This April 13, 2009 photo shows an employee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., waiting for the front gate to be opened so she can enter. The all-male detention center with a capacity of 1,924 detainees is operated on contract by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest private prison firm. (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)
This April 13, 2009 photo shows an employee of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., waiting for the front gate to be opened so she can enter. The all-male detention center with a capacity of 1,924 detainees is operated on contract by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest private prison firm. (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)
Credit Kate Brumback / AP Photo, File
 
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A transgender woman from Mexico has been denied asylum for the second time by a federal immigration court in Georgia. 

“Estrella” Antonio-Sanchez represented herself more than two and a half years ago in a court at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. She applied for asylum, saying she was abused in Mexico for being transgender and feared to return to her home country. The judge denied her petition, but she appealed her case and got a second hearing last month, but her petition was again denied.

Jeffrey Fisher, a litigation associate at Kilpatrick Townsend, is part of a team of lawyers at the firm who took the case on pro-bono, and said he’s disappointed by the judge’s decision.

“She suffered repeated incidents of fairly serious physical and sexual abuse, all at the hands of authority figures who ─ fairly clear ─ were intended to punish her for being a transgender woman and her femininity,” Fisher said.

But Judge Dan Trimble’s ruling says she failed to demonstrate that the cause of the abuse was her gender identity, according to Fisher. A representative for Executive Office for Immigration Court (EOIR) said the office does not comment on individual judges’ decisions.

Stewart Immigration Court has the highest deportation rate in the nation, at 93 percent, according to government data compiled by TRAC, a nonprofit at Syracuse University. In fiscal year 2014, the asylum grant rate at Stewart was 6 percent, compared to 49 percent for the rest of the country, according to EOIR.

Fisher says he will appeal the latest ruling to the Board of Immigration Appeals.