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.