Why is No One Talking About Daniel Garcia’s Gay Sister

Daniel Garcia, an 18-year-old Toronto student, was deported to Mexico on Saturday after a last-minute attempt to stay the decision failed. Supporters, who include politicians, school board officials, Daniel’s teachers and fellow students, and groups such as No One Is Illegal, organized petitions and rallies (held Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve) out of concern that he will face violence in Mexico because his older sister Brenda is a lesbian. Brenda was deported last Monday, petition- and rally-free. Something is wrong with this.

In 2007, Daniel and Brenda arrived in Canada and filed for refugee status saying that they faced death and persecution in Mexico because Brenda is gay (she says she was threatened and her partner was shot to death for being gay). Their claim was rejected.

At a rally last Friday, Hillel Heinstein, Daniel’s English language teacher, said, “He has heard from others, from his family there, that people have said that they’re going to finish the job, that they’re going to come out and kill him and his sister. We are not simply here because we like Daniel, because we think he’s a good person, because he’s an integral part of our community. We are here because of that, but we also fear for his safety.”

In her decision rejecting a temporary stay, Federal Court Justice Daniele Tremblay-Lamer said that Daniel has acted with “complete disregard for Canada’s immigration laws” after he failed to appear for removal twice, disobeyed conditions of his release, and failed to report a change of address.

While Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, would have been able to approve a request for a stay on Daniel’s deportation, a representative from his office told the Canadian Press, “I can say that, like all failed asylum seekers facing deportation, [Mr. Garcia] has benefited from all of the rights and privileges available to asylum seekers. Nobody is deported until after they have exhausted their appeals; however, once that has happened, we expect them to leave our country and respect Canadian law.” A similar request was also turned down earlier by Vic Toews, the Public Safety Minister.

According to Daniel’s lawyer, Guidy Mamann, Daniel’s problems with paperwork and evidence are due to the fact that his previous legal advocate died (according to the Immigration and Refugee Board, not knowing about procedures is not a valid defense).

At a rally last Friday, Cheri DiNovo, the NDP Member of Provincial Parliament for Daniel’s school district, said that deporting Daniel is against Canadian values: “We ask every immigration official to search their own hearts and their souls and to really say, ‘Is this the Canada we want to live in – a Canada that sends a (teenager) to a probable death because of homophobia?’”

According to a 2007 report by the UN Refugee Agency, an estimated 332 homophobia-based murders occurred in Mexico between 1995 to 2004. The same report notes the Citizens’ Commission Against Homophobic Hate Crimes, a Mexico City-based organization, places the number at 996.

While there have been petitions and rallies and media coverage about Daniel’s deportation, there is very little information available about his sister. It’s one thing to face threats due to supporting someone else’s sexuality – and another thing entirely to face them yourself – but it’s Daniel, not Brenda, who received a lot of support. There are several possible reasons for this: Daniel, as a student, has better access to a community likely to feel paternal/protective towards him, while Brenda, 30, doesn’t; he has the “Canada sends teenager to possible death” angle; and it was also Daniel who recently reported he’d been threatened, while threats against Brenda, though substantive (her partner was murdered, why are more people not bothered by this?), are less recent. But I am still annoyed. I’m annoyed that when I tried to find more information about Brenda there wasn’t any, whereas the Internet is full of syndicated news stories and Facebook pages and rants in support of Daniel. I’m annoyed that most of the “discourse,” which is how I’m going to refer to the comments on the Globe and Mail articles (even though some of them appear to be written by the love child of a YouTube commentator and a dysfunctional T9 dictionary), is along the lines of “toss this illegal immediately” and ignores anything of value. And most of all, I’m annoyed that more people are paying attention to a young straight man than to a youngish gay woman, as if being murdered because of your identity or that of someone related to you gets less horrible with age.

It’s not just that I don’t want to live in – as DiNovo put it – a country that might send a teenager to death because of probable homophobia; I don’t want to live in a country that would send anyone to death because of probable homophobia. Especially if they’re actually gay.

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Carolyn is the NSFW Editor for Autostraddle.com. She is also a freelance copy editor and writer, and her work has appeared in Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, the Billfold, and other places. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 283 articles for us.

17 Comments

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      Oh god. I’ve had this conversation with my sister-out-law’s white Australian boyfriend SO MANY TIMES when he brings up asylum seekers – I say, “Dude, you want to keep illegals out of Australia? Look at the white European and North American tourist visa overstayers before some dude who’s afraid for his life.” And then begins the backpedaling. >_<

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        OMFG. Australia’s attitude towards refugees, illegal or otherwise makes me sick with shame. Fixating on some irresponsible catchphrase of ‘Stop the Boats’ while desperate people die off of our shores.

        It’s good that you make friends/family think about what they mean when they oppose illegal immigrants. You go, Dina!

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        Maybe you should follow US immigration trends in the early 90s when most (white) south-east Europe immigrants had their applications rejected because they wouldn’t be trusted to vote for the correct party when they became citizens?

        Same as the Irish in civil war times, same as many others.

        It has very little to do with racism or color. It’s votes and money. Always was, always will be.

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        I think you’re right, as far as enforcement-wise, things have only increased. But like, the attitudes of people who know about/hear about my dad’s story think it’s funny that he overstayed his Visas when he was first deciding if he wanted to live in the U.S. you know? Like the same people who get red with rage when talking about “illegals” staying in the U.S. at all. Whhiiiiccchhh is why I get pissed when people are like, “IT’S ALL ABOUT BORDER CONTROL”. No it’s not. It’s legalized racism.

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          “…I get pissed when people are like, “IT’S ALL ABOUT BORDER CONTROL”. No it’s not. It’s legalized racism.”

          HI JVEEBS, I THINK I LOVE YOU.

          but in all seriousness, i don’t know how people sleep at night after they insist on deporting “illegals” like seriously, where’s your soul? my cousins can’t leave their home at night in mexico right now. would people really be okay sending someone back to that?

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    This is so messed up I can’t even find the words to fully articulate my frustration. Immigration issues are thorny and pressing in this day and age, but I cannot believe this situation. The amount of idiocy that it would take for a government to deport these people, and the public outcry for the brother and not the gay woman whose partner was shot? Off the charts. Love the glaring double standard.

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    Mexico has a terrible track record for how it treats women. Look at Juarez City! I’m not that concerned about the btother…He’s a young 18 year old straight kid who’s sister is gay. He’s not an activist and he’s not a woman. I’m all for bringing Brenda back, but I have a feeling her being a lesbian isn’t why her partner was shot. But still, if she can live in peace here, she’s should be allowed. The brother? Well, all this attention on him – it was the CBC’s top story, doesn’t make sense – there are deportations every day of people who should not be deported…I don’t necessarily think he’s one of them.

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    This is just bizarre. Unless no one was fully aware of the situation until after the sister was deported? And now they are and that’s why they are paying attention? It scares me that they basically just sent essentially innocent people to their death. Even though I think this is something that happens all the time. Which makes me sadder and more scared.

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    Agreed with everyone in the comments, it’s just confusing to me why no one is caring. It’s one thing for people to not release information, but the fact that no one seems to care is deeply upsetting. I am so angry. I don’t know what we can do.

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    Their deportation back to Mexico sickens me. Her partner was MURDERED. Brenda, especially, deserves refugee status.

    “even though some of them appear to be written by the love child of a YouTube commentator and a dysfunctional T9 dictionary”

    Props to Autostraddle in general, and Carolyn who wrote this post, for making me laugh even while reading something that made me want to cry. This article is a good example of everything that is wrong with the immigration system, but your wit makes me feel a tiny bit better.

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    Um .. couldn’t it also just be for her safety? as in, it wouldn’t help to have her photo plastered all over the msm if she’s already been deported to mexico and might very well be in mortal danger?

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    hey .. thank you for writing this article. i organize with no one is illegal – toronto. we organized with daniel for a few months in advance before he was racially profiled and picked up by the cops. brenda was picked up a week before daniel. she did not want us to go public, and because she was in detention and was at the absolute end of the ‘legal’ process, there were no legal mechanisms to prevent her deportation. we didn’t actually release her name at her direction, but the mainstream media was able to find it and put it out. there are 70 deportations in toronto every day and we hear about a 10th of them. in the world we want to live in – we would stop all deportations, all the time. until that time – we have to choose. we did not go public simply because daniel’s life was in danger – we went public because there was enough community support, enough ‘compelling’ factors that could have possibly stopped his deportation. deciding when to talk about an issue is a terribly difficult decision with dozens of factors and always one that leaves us more certain that all immigration systems are violent and must be dismantled. more often then not ‘going public’ particularly in the face of ‘law and order’ ruling party that does not want to be seen as ‘backing down’ backfires. our hope, among others, was that we could stop daniel’s deportation and then be able to sponsor brenda’s coming back. i have fwded your article to both of them, in the hopes that they might respond. you can read our statement on this here: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/539. perhaps you could link it to the blog.

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