In addition to the fact there are an estimated 12 million undocumented people here, what if you immigrated to the States without documentation to save your life?
That's the situation 32 year old transwoman Alexandra Reyes found herself in. While growing up in Cenotillo, Mexico she got caught at age 8 wearing her sister's clothes and shoes. She was tied to a tree by her father and severely beaten for it.
The non acceptance and trans hatred in her family continued to fester and only escalated from that point.
An aunt once walked into her bedroom bearing a machete with the intent to kill her because she didn't want Alexandra in the family any more.
The Mexican police would decline to arrest her tormentors, so in 2000 she paid a smuggler to get her across the border, then spent four days and nights walking across the desert until she reached Colorado and the safety of a friend who was living there.
She got into trouble over a round trip cab fare from Aurora, CO to Breckenridge that totaled $500 but the friend she was meeting refused to pay thus sticking her with the bill. She went to the cab company a week later to pay it, but the cab company called the police, who then called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on her.
Because Alexandra is preoperative, she spent 11 months housed with male prisoners in an immigration detention facility but according to a Denverpost.com report didn't have any adverse incidents happen.
Because same gender marriage is legal in Mexico City and GLBT tourists head to Mexican beach resorts on a regular basis, there is a perception among immigration judges that Mexico is tolerant and welcoming. But what many people also forget is that Mexico is a Roman Catholic with rural pockets of intolerance in in the country.
Alexandra's immigration attorney Bryon Large argued before the Board of Immigration Appeals against her deportation back to Mexico by recalling a case of a gay Mexican citizen that was deported after being denied asylum by Canada. That person was found dead after returning to Mexico.
Alexandra clearly fit into that category. "It would be physically dangerous for her to walk down the street," said Large. 'She could be sexually assaulted"
One of the conditions of her asylum status is she can't leave the US and has to stay out of legal trouble. But it's not like Reyes is eager to return to her birth country. She's now living in a Aurora apartment with friends and deciding what kind of work she'd like to do while waiting to receive her work permit