Nina Chaubal has been detained by border patrol at an internal checkpoint. This was announced by their spouse Greta Gustava on Facebook.
A former Google employee who moved from Mumbai, India on an H-1B visa, Nina has stayed in the United States for years since being removed from their sponsor company. Despite being being legally married to Greta, if proper immigration paperwork has not been complete, Nina could be deported and blacklisted from re-entering the country. Marriage is not automatic citizenship.
The day after Greta announced Nina’s detainment, they went on to encourage supporters to use a #FreeNina hashtag on Twitter and call the local border patrol offices and complain. The border patrol allegedly disconnected their phone and have stopped taking calls after Trans LifeLine advocates began flooding their lines.
Trans LifeLine is a self-declared suicide prevention and resource hotline for transgender people ran by transgender people. The founders, Greta Gustava and Nina Chaubal, had been under intense scrutiny this year after review determined they may be missing upwards of 80 calls a day and never answering more than half of their daily volume.
Greta has remarked before that Nina’s lack of a green card caused them financial problems. On April 8th, 2016, Greta opened a GoFundMe page raising over $700 to help pay for the associated legal expenses in a permanent residence application. Although their goal of $500 was exceeded, Greta’s comments on Facebook indicate that they may not have set in motion what was required for Nina to legally stay in America during the application process.
After talks with a lawyer who specializes in immigration, Greta removed requests that people complain to the local border control. Experts believe this was solid advice: ICE and the Arizona border patrol do not need to give people special treatment. They do not deal with US citizens who are granted protections by the constitution. For instance, as Nina is only being detained, they are not given Miranda rights or allowed to consult a lawyer. Greta claims that the border patrol has accepted the lawyer’s written phone number and medicines to give to Nina, but direct contact between Nina and the outside world is completely severed.
ICE has 72 hours after detainment to bring Nina into custody or the law requires they be let go. Once ICE has them in custody, lengthy proceedings begin to determine what will happen. Illegally working for Uber (as they’ve said on Facebook), and receiving a salary from the Trans LifeLine charity, will work against Nina in court.