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During a White House event in honor of LGBT Pride month on Wednesday, President Obama was heckled by an undocumented LGBT activist protesting his administration’s policies on the deportation of undocumented LGBT immigrants. According to The Huffington Post, the heckler, identified as Jennicet Gutiérrez, a 29-year-old transgender woman, shouted, “Not one more deportation!” before being escorted out by Secret Service at the president’s request. Obama, clearly annoyed by the interruption, addressed her directly.
“No, no, no. Listen, you’re in my house. It’s not respectful. Shame on you. You shouldn’t be doing this,” he said, to cheers of the crowd, many of whom were recording the event on smartphones. Gutiérrez reportedly came to the U.S. from Mexico at age 15 and is still undocumented, although she is currently in the process of obtaining a green card.
According to a report last November by Fusion, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) holds about 75 transgender immigrants every night, most of them transgender women seeking asylum. Many of them are housed with men, and one in five confirmed sexual assaults within the facilities involved a transgender woman, according to the report. In a statement released after the incident, Gutierrez said she was outraged at the “lack of leadership” from the president: “He had no concern for the way that LGBTQ detainees are suffering. As a transwoman, the misgendering and the physical and sexual abuse — these are serious crimes that we face in detention centers. How can that be ignored?”
Obama was able to maintain a sense of humor about the incident, telling those in the audience, “You know, my attitude is if you’re eating the hors d’oeuvres … and drinking the booze … anyway, where was I?”