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Posted on Aug 9, 2014

GLAAD signs on to The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force letter to the President on Immigration

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has released a letter that GLAAD and other LGBT advocacy groups have signed on to appealing to the President to provide administrative relief for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, 267,000 of them estimated to be LGBT, in the US. The measures would impact communities that are currently plagued by fear of deportation, unsafe detention, separation of families, lack of access to healthcare and deportations back to countries that in many cases have laws and policies that enshrine discrimination against LGBT people. Although these actions would do much to improve the lives of immigrants and their communities, they are stopgaps that would be put in place until comprehensive, humane immigration reform legislation is passed in Congress.

The letter defines the immigrant population based on estimates, noting that according to Heartland Alliance's Rainbow Welcome Initiative 5,000 LGBT refugees came to the US in 2010. This number is probably higher because some LGBT immigrants do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of persecution, many as a result miss the one year filing deadline for asylum. The Williams Institute estimates that there are 267,000 LGBT immigrants in the US.

In 2012, the President created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which potentially impacts 1.9 million eligible youth, some of them LGBT, allowing them to pay fees and fill out forms that permit them to come out of the shadows although it does not permanently fix their status. These youth are not alone and the letter asks the President to extend DACA to their siblings, spouses, parents and family members thus easing the fear of deportation and keeping families together so that they can continue to contribute to our communities.

Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) works with local police authorities to identify undocumented immigrants in many states. As a result of the 34,000 bed quota in place since 2007, undocumented immigrants working, going to school and otherwise forming a part of our communities are targeted for detention and deportation, making them less likely to report abuses, or crimes. Many of the detainees are placed in the private detention system that has been developed to fulfill the quota. This system has been accused of 1) not providing HIV positive detainees with medication, 2) placing pregnant women and LGBT detainees in solitary confinement-increasingly shown to be problematic and traumatizing, 3) failing to protect detainees from sexual assault, especially transgender women and gay men, 4) failing to provide transgender detainees with medication, and 5) assigning transgender women to men's prison populations. Many detainees face these conditions without representation, because there is no guarantee. The letter asks the President to ensure that ICE use alternatives to detention especially for vulnerable populations such as LGBT immigrants and pregnant women, end solitary confinement and issue a guidance to judges that would advise them to use discretion ensuring that those immigrants that are eligible can be paroled if they are eligible.

These changes would positively impact the lives of immigrants, many of them LGBT, their families and our communities.

Here is the list of the current signatories:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Alliance of Multicultural Bisexuals of DC (AMBi DC)

American Civil Liberties Union

Bisexual Resource Center

Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

GetEQUAL

GLAAD

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality

GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis)

Harvey Milk Foundation

Human Rights Campaign

Immigration Equality

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Lambda Legal

Marriage Equality USA

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Coalition of Anti?Violence Programs

National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

National Minority AIDS Council

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Nehirim

Pride At Work, AFL?CIO

The BiCast

The Trevor Project

Transgender Education Network of Texas

August 9, 2014
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Posted on Aug 6, 2014

Advocates call for the release of transgender immigrant, Marichuy Leal Gamino

As reported yesterday on GLAAD's blog, advocates across the country are rallying to support the immediate release of Marichuy Leal Gamino. Gamino, a 23 year old transgender woman, reported that she was  sexually assaulted while in immigration custody at a detention center in Arizona. In an article in the Huffington Post, Francisco Luna, a member of the Arcoiris Liberation Team calls for her release:

"We see no other solution than for ICE to immediately release her, where her community can take measures to ... help her heal."

More than 50  groups have signed on to this call, including the Transgender Law Center and these groups are organizing rallies in support of Gamino's release. Supporters point out that 1) she was housed with men, 2) staff ignored her complaints of harassment and 3) she was pressured to sign a statement saying the rape was consensual.

The Center for American Progress and other groups have outlined the ways that immigration detention centers have failed to protect LGBT inmates, especially transgender women in the past. For some time advocates have been calling for 1) alternatives to detention, 2) an end to the 34,000 bed quota at detention centers, 3) and relief for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, an estimated 267,000 of whom are LGBT amongst other reforms.

Migrants come to the US fleeing violence and abuse at home only to encounter a system that has been repeatedly called to account for its inability to protect LGBT detainees.

The Los Angeles rally will be on Thursday, August 7th at 10 AM in front the Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) offices.

August 6, 2014
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Posted on Jul 30, 2014

LGBT immigrant advocates call on supporters to stop House Bill 5230

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many LGBT immigrants and children of immigrants and allies are concerned about the crisis at the border. People are writing articles to explain why the children are leaving Central American countries to make the dangerous trip to the border. Groups are organizing efforts to bring aid to the refugees. The crisis is separate from the ongoing struggle to pass immigration reform in Congress, stalled at the House, or the calls for relief for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the US, including an estimated 267,000 that are LGBT.

Representative Rogers of Kentucky has introduced a measure, HR 5230 which is taking the wrong tactic to address issue, according to LGBT immigration advocates from Immigration Equality. HR 5230 under the title of "the Secure the Southwest Border Act of 2014" increases funding for border patrol, National Guard presence, expedited deportation hearings and detention. Both the House and Senate will be voting on this bill in the next 24 hours.

“With only one day left before Congress goes on recess, the introduction of H.R. 5230 feels like a Hail Mary pass from anti-immigrant members in the House,” said Trina C. Olson, Immigration Equality Action Fund’s Interim Executive Director. “This bill would hurt children, hurt vulnerable asylum seekers, and continue to tear families apart. While we need immigration reform and relief urgently, we cannot support a bill that undermines key elements of policy designed to help those that are most vulnerable.”  

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival,or DACA, is a procedural change that allows students that were brought to the United States before the age of 16 to stay in the country; however it does not permanently address their immigration status. Many young people have people who have applied for the program, including LGBT students, have shared their continued challenges such as paying out of state tuition, the fees involved, the lack of access to health insurance and the fact that some states did not allow them to drive. You can read about a recent case in Arizona.

Asylum allows migrants to apply for authorization to live in the US because of persecution or hardship in their home country. LGBT asylum seekers, especially transgender people, have shared their stories of fleeing persecution and seeking assistance from the US. But the process has a one year filing deadline that many people miss and migrants have shared stories about abuse during immigration detention. Read the Center for American Progress Report for more on this issue.

"What the refugees escaping violence and poverty need is support, assistance, and respect, not detention and deportation," said GLAAD's Director of Spanish Language Media, Monica Trasandes. "This crisis should not be used as an excuse to dismantle the crucial programs that offer aid to many immigrants including LGBT immigrants. Comprehensive immigration reform has already passed the Senate. Any solutions should be crafted to help immigrants, including LGBT immigrants not hurt them."

You can visit the Immigration Equality Action Fund to learn more about efforts related to the House bill.

 

July 30, 2014
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NC State Branding Bar