A federal appeals court has ruled that an illegal immigrant and convicted felon can’t be deported back to Mexico because he identifies as a transgender woman, which leaves him vulnerable to torture back in his home country.
Edin Carey Avendano-Hernandez was born male in Mexico, and claims to have been raped by his brothers and suffered other torments. In 2000, he illegally entered the U.S. and took up residence in Fresno, California. Avendano-Hernandez also started taking female hormones and began living openly as a woman in 2005. In 2006, he committed two separate drunk driving offenses, the second of which injured two people and resulted in a felony conviction. After serving a year in jail, he was deported back to Mexico in 2007.
Back in Mexico, Avendano-Hernandez claims to have been subjected to more harassment from family and neighbors and to have been raped by members of the Mexican army. He illegally entered the U.S. again and, after being arrested, petitioned for sanctuary in the U.S. under the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT), arguing that deporting him would violate the CAT because he would more likely than not experience torture at the hands of Mexican authorities.
An immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) both rejected Avendano-Hernandez’s arguments on the grounds that he had committed a serious crime (felony drunk driving) and was not likely to face official torture.