President Obama’s immigration policy came under direct challenge Wednesday at the White House. As Obama spoke to a gathering celebrating LGBT Pride Month, Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans activist from Mexico, interrupted him from the crowd and called for an end to deportations. Gutiérrez is a founding member of Familia: TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants often excluded in the immigration debate. She joins us to discuss her action at the White House.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: President Obama’s immigration policy came under direct challenge Wednesday at the White House. As Obama spoke to a gathering celebrating LGBT Pride Month, an undocumented LGBT activist from Mexico called for an end to deportations.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to thank all of you—advocates, organizers, friends, families—for being here today. And over the years, we’ve gathered to celebrate Pride Month, and I’ve told you that I’m so hopeful about what we can accomplish. I’ve told you that the civil rights of LGBT Americans—
JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: President Obama—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yeah, hold on a second.
JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Release all LGBTQ detention centers! President Obama, stop the torture and abuse of trans women in detention centers! President Obama, I am a trans woman. I’m tired of the abuse. I’m tired [inaudible]—
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Listen, you’re in my house. As a general rule, I am just fine with a few hecklers, but not when I’m up in the house.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s right. He said, “This is my house.” Well, joining us now from Washington, D.C., is Jennicet Gutiérrez, the undocumented trans activist from Mexico who interrupted President Obama, founding member of Familia: TQLM, established to advocate for LGBTQ immigrants often excluded in the immigration debate.
What exactly did you say, Jennicet? How did you get into the White House? What was the message you had for President Obama?
JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: Good morning, Amy. Thank you so much for having me. I wanted to send a very strong message to President Obama. And what I was trying to say was for Mr. Obama to release all LGBTQ detainees in detention centers; in addition, to stop the abuse and the torture trans women are facing in detention; and basically, that the message at the end was to stop all deportations.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Jennicet, could you explain how you got into the White House?
JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: I did get an invite from another—Angela Peoples, who is a friend of mine who works for GetEQUAL. She had an extra ticket, and she has seen my activisms that I have done in the last six months. So she gathered my information, submitted it to the White House, and I got clearance to be a participant in the speech.
AMY GOODMAN: So, as you were escorted out by the security, you were taking a great risk, Jennicet. You’re undocumented. You’re a trans activist from Mexico. What did they say to you? And were you concerned that you, yourself, would be in jeopardy?
JENNICET GUTIÉRREZ: That is correct. I knew that was a big risk to take, but, to me, I’ve always been a risk taker. And the message and giving the voice to my community, that don’t have that voice, was more important than facing any consequences. As I was being escorted out, the Secret Service and the security were just very silent. They weren’t questioning me or giving me any specific orders. I just continued to pass out of the White House. Once I was out there, they kind of held me for 20 minutes or so. They wanted to double-check my identity and basically—
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Jennicet, we have to leave it there, but I want to thank you very much for being with us. Again, Jennicet Gutiérrez, undocumented trans activist from Mexico, founding member of the group Familia: TWLM. This is Democracy Now! Tomorrow we’ll be in Charleston, South Carolina.