The transgender illegal immigrant who heckled President Obama at a White House reception said Thursday she couldn’t remain silent in the face of the president’s hypocrisy about the treatment of undocumented transgender immigrants in detention centers.
“I spoke out because our issues and struggles can no longer be ignored,” Jennicet Gutierrez wrote in the Washington Blade. “His administration holds LGBTQ and trans immigrants in detention. The violence my trans sisters face in detention centers is one of torture and abuse.”
It’s not clear how Ms. Gutierrez, 29, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico living in Los Angeles, got into the gay pride reception in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday. All visitors to the White House face a background check by the Secret Service, which didn’t respond to questions about the incident.
Ms. Gutierrez wrote she was “fortunate to be invited” to the event. But she told another publication that she was given an extra ticket by a friend and that she had not planned a protest.
A spokeswoman for GetEqual, which issued a detailed press release including quotes from Ms. Gutierrez within an hour of her protest, refused to answer questions about her immigration status.
Asked about the incident Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said only, “We hope it doesn’t happen again.” He said he was “not sure” whether Mr. Obama was aware of the alleged mistreatment of transgender immigrants.
After interrupting the president and heckling him several times at the event Wednesday, Ms. Gutierrez was escorted from the event by Secret Service officers at the insistence of Mr. Obama.
“It was a moment where you just don’t know how to react,” she told the Washington Blade, adding that she informed the officers of her immigration status. “Because I openly disclosed my identity and everything, and it was just an awkward vibe.”
Immigration hecklers have frequently confronted Mr. Obama on the campaign trail, but rarely if ever in the White House. Mr. Obama was visibly irritated by her demonstration.
“Listen, you’re in my house,” Mr. Obama told her. “You shouldn’t be doing this.”
After the president ordered her to be removed, he remarked to the other guests that such a protest wasn’t right for someone who was “eating the hors d’oeuvres … and drinking the booze” at the White House.