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Immigration officer accused of bias against trans applicant
Government contends establishing applicant’s identity ‘key issue’

Friday, December 23, 2005

A government immigration official inappropriately questioned a transgender woman who was applying for citizenship about her gender identity and demanded a letter verifying her original sex, an advocacy group assisting the Ecuadorian native has charged.

But a spokesperson for the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services contends there was nothing improper about the interview.

“The first thing an immigration officer must do is establish an identity and gender is a key issue,� said Shawn Saucier, a CIS spokesperson. “If that officer was expecting a male and was faced with a female, the line of questioning would be to learn as much as possible.�

The transgender applicant, who asked to be identified only as “Gloria� for fear that the government would deny her citizenship request, said the incident took place at the Garden Hills, N.Y., Citizenship & Immigration Services on Nov. 3.

“After waiting an hour with other applicants, a female employee called five names,â€? Gloria, 30, said in an interview conducted with the help of translator Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality. “I recognized my male name and answered‑â€