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Rea Carey arrested during immigration protest

Rea Carey of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said she wants action on comprehensive immigration reform (Photo by Kathy Plate)

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey is among the 27 people who were arrested outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday during a protest in support of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

She and others blocked an intersection outside the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a “Stop Separating Families Action” the Fair Immigration Reform Movement organized. Carey and her fellow activists specifically urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to allow a vote on the measure the U.S. Senate approved last year.

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” said Carey before her arrest. “In this instance, Speaker Boehner is the problem. His intransigence on fixing our broken immigration system is inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on millions of vulnerable undocumented immigrants and their families.”

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement protest is among the events in support of the issue that have taken place in D.C. this week.

Participants who took part in a march from the National Mall to Lafayette Park that CASA de Maryland hosted called upon President Obama to stop deporting undocumented immigrants from the country. The National Council for La Raza and Causa, an Oregon immigrant advocacy group that backs marriage rights for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues, are among the groups that also took part.

Immigration Equality on Tuesday hosted a press conference in front of the White House to draw attention to the issue.

Fernanda Vallejos, an undocumented transgender woman from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula who currently lives in New York City, is among those who spoke.

Vallejos — who worked for an HIV/AIDS service organization in the Central American country before traveling to Texas where her family lives — told the Washington Blade after the Tuesday press conference that she came to the U.S. in hopes of finding “a new chance of life.” She noted in Spanish that LGBT Hondurans are frequently tortured and receive death threats.

“If I go back to my country, I will return to torture or death,” said Vallejos.

Fernanda Vallejos speaks outside the White House on April 29, 2014. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Vallejos last year spent two months in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities north of Houston. She told the Blade that officers made jokes about her gender identity and expression and placed her with male inmates — even though she identifies as a woman.

Vallejos urged Obama to help her and other undocumented immigrants.

“We are people in need,” she said. “We cannot return to our country.”