Immigration activists are celebrating a victory after a judge finally granted bond for Christina Lopez, an undocumented transgender woman detained at Santa Ana City Jail. She’s been held for more than a year-and-a-half and, supporters say, is being denied proper medial treatment for Hepatitis C. Judge Carlos Maury set the bond amount on Thursday in his Los Angeles courtroom at $10,000 with conditions for the 35-year-old Anaheim resident.
“The judge recognized that Christina’s detention has gone on far too long and accepted Christina’s efforts to live a healthier life,” Ava Benach, Christina’s attorney, said in a press release. “The strong showing of Christina’s family, community and supporters gave the Judge comfort that Christina should be granted a chance to rebuild her life after such prolonged detention.”
About a dozen activists joined Lopez’s mother last November for a candlelight vigil outside Santa Ana City Jail that contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for bed space. “They’ve wanted to deport her twice already, but Christina is fighting to find ways to stay here,” Clara Lopez, Christina’s mother, told the Weekly at the time. “She has hope of being freed and being by my side.” Activists noted the Peruvian immigrant had been in an abusive domestic violence relationship with the breakup leading to bouts of depression that evolved into a drinking problem. A third DUI in 2013 landed her in ICE detention and deportation proceedings.
With the hashtag #FreeChristina, immigrant and transgender rights groups fought for her release under the #Not1More campaign. Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, GetEQUAL and the Transgender Law Center argued that Christina’s conditions, particularly with her health concern, wouldn’t improve even with ICE’s new 18-page memo last year on care for transgender immigrant detainees.
“From the start and to the bitter end at [Thursday’s] bond hearing, ICE has fought against Christina’s freedom, her health and well-being, and her right to exist as a transgender human being,” said Isa Noyola, Director of Programs at Transgender Law Center, in a press release. “Community advocacy, direct action, and legal representation came together to get her free and reunited with her family where she belongs.”
The next cause for activists to rally around is raising the bond funds necessary to get Christina out of Santa Ana City Jail and finally back in the arms of her family.