We always celebrate the resiliency and advocacy of our LGBTQ clients. Many have fought bravely for gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in their home countries. And some, like Perla, helped other detained women prepare their court documents in immigration detention.

Perla was born in Mexico but grew up in Illinois. In 2020, she was arrested by ICE in Arizona. Florence Project attorney Greg Fay met Perla at Eloy Detention Center and together, they prepared her case, documenting the persecution of lesbian people in Mexico and readying her testimony to seek asylum relief.

Since Perla is bilingual, she also helped migrant women in the detention center read their immigration paperwork and translate their asylum documents from Spanish to English. The experience was eye-opening, Perla says: “I didn’t know too much about why people fled their countries. I just thought they wanted a better life, but some of the stories that girls told me about what happened to them were just a nightmare.”

Overcoming extreme challenges of her own, and serving as an advocate for others, Perla inspires us at the Florence Project as we fight for justice for immigrants. Being separated from her family, Perla says, was “the worst experience of my life. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.” She demonstrated the strength, determination, and allyship we honor this month, and thankfully, after 11 months at Eloy, Perla won asylum.

She reunited with her family at Christmas time last year. “I wasn’t even looking for gifts or anything,”  she recalls. “I just wanted to be with my wife, my family, and my animals, and that’s what happened.”