By JON CRONIN, Editor
A transgender Mexican immigrant who lives in Jackson Heights was one of 18 pardons granted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today for immigrant New Yorkers without any criminal activity for more than 10 years.
Lorena Borjas, 57, faced a conviction in 1994 for prostitution as a result of being a victim of human trafficking.
Today, according to the governor’s office, she is an advocate for transgender and immigrant rights in communities all around the country. She runs HIV testing programs for transgender sex workers, and syringe exchanges for trans women in need of hormone injections.
In an article on the New York City Transgender Law Center’s website, Borjas said that she was relieved after the pardon and noted that it will be a life changing stress reliever.
“With this pardon granted, I will no longer have to go to sleep at night, worrying that I will be deported back to a country that is no longer home,” said Borjas. “I will be able to live my life without stress and fear of immigration, and I will be able to continue doing the work I do and help more vulnerable transgender women.”
Borjas is now free to pursue her citizenship.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said that Borjas is active in Jackson Heights with immigration advocacy group Make the Road New York as well as a trans-Latina organization.
As an educator at community health centers across New York City, Borjas has received commendations from elected officials, advocates and community members, including Public Advocate Letitia James.
Dromm said that he wrote letters of support for Borjas to the governor’s office in 2012 and in June of this year, citing her passion for community advocacy.
“She’s always been a strong advocate for the trans community and I’m really happy she was pardoned,” said Dromm. “It always weighed on her head. I would imagine it’s a big relief for her, to restart her life without that fear.”
Dromm noted that, often, trans women do not have the self worth to pick themselves up. He said that Borjas goes out and finds the neediest and most destitute and helps them realize that they are deserving of a job, dignity and respect.
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.