Archive for the 'Immigration' Category

World Refugee Day: #LGBTrefugeeswelcome

World Refugee Day

For World Refugee Day, we stand with the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes to seek safety in distant lands. The current levels of refugee flight and displacement represent the highest levels in modern history. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports that 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home in recent years, including 22.5 million refugees, most of whom are under 18. In the time that it takes to read this article, conflict and persecution will drive 20 more people into forced displacement.

We know, too, that there are many LGBT refugees who are caught in this massive displacement. Many are fleeing the same conflict and instability that drives their neighbors from their homes, but LGBT refugees are at even greater risk of violence and persecution at every stage in their journey. They often end up in refugee camps or in neighboring countries that are deeply homophobic and transphobic, where they are likely to be violently persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Tragically, many LGBT refugees who make the excruciating decision to flee for their lives—choosing a dangerously uncertain future over certain death—find themselves even less safe in flight.

Many more refugees are fleeing targeted LGBT violence and persecution in their home countries, especially in the nearly eighty countries that criminalize same-sex relationships and non-conforming gender expression. This LGBT flight deprives emerging economies of dynamic young leaders who should be contributing to the social and economic development of their countries. More tragically, it often deprives the refugees themselves of the security and opportunity they need to build a stable future. And those who chose to stand and fight for their rights may still find the threat of prison and violence overwhelming, and they, too, may need to seek protection abroad one day. In the most violent environments, it may be impossible to survive as someone who is politically “out,” or someone who is proudly identifiable as gender non-conforming. The life expectancy of trans women in parts of Central America is only 35-years.

Today, when the world’s refugees most need our attention and sympathy, we see too many countries, the United States included, shutting borders, building walls and turning boats away from our shores. For those of us who fight for LGBT rights in the United States and abroad, we must recognize the LGBT face of the refugee emergency. This is an LGBT issue. The LGBT community in this country has both the resources and the sensitivities to do more – and those of us who survived years of social rejection, an AIDS pandemic and cycles of political vilification in this country should celebrate that remarkable human drive for authentic self-preservation, which has propelled so many of us to seek safety and a chosen community away from our own small towns or places of birth. Most LGBT refugees continue to live in fear even after fleeing their country of nationality. For them, resettlement to countries like the United States represents their only chance of living in safety. We should welcome LGBT refugees.

World Refugee Day

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Related Content: 

U.N. Information on World Refugee Day

US MAP

J Street’s World Refugee Day U. S. Event Map

White House Rally 

 

Council for Global Equality Calls on U.S. Senators to Reject Legislation Abandoning Syrian Refugees

Senate-Refugee-Letter-Nov2015-1November 25 — Members of the Council for Global Equality today sent a letter to U.S. Senators calling on them to reject legislation, already passed in the House of Representatives as H.R. 4038, that would “bring the refugee resettlement system, which already moves at a very slow pace, to a grinding halt.”  The letter recognizes that LGBT refugees in Syria and Iraq are among the most vulnerable; that they have been hunted down and killed in gruesome public executions; and that they face additional discrimination and violence in flight within their own refugee communities.

The Council’s refugee experts conclude that “[t]hese vulnerable refugees deserve our protection, and we know they can be resettled safely using current security screening and vetting processes. Denying them protection, or limiting protection to those who are Christian only, would be devastating to those who most need our compassion, and it would provide a public relations victory of sorts to ISIS and others who seek to justify their terrorism using cultural and religious propaganda.”

Protecting the persecuted, and resettling vulnerable refugees, are strong U.S. commitments that must not be rejected.  Our nation is better than that.

White House Resources on Syrian Refugees: https://www.whitehouse.gov/campaign/resources-on-syrian-refugees

U.S. Says Visas From Gay Spouses Will Get Equal Treatment

Secretary of State John F. Kerry

Photo: Jason Reed, Reuters

Repost from Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – The United States will immediately begin considering visa applications of gay and lesbian spouses in the same manner as heterosexual couples, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

Kerry made the announcement at the U.S. Embassy in London.

“When same-sex couples apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it considers the application of opposite sex spouses,” Kerry said shortly after his arrival in London.

“If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are in a country that doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centers around the world,” he added.

The move comes after the Obama administration urged all U.S. agencies to review their polices after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a key part of the federal law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security said its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would begin reviewing petitions filed on behalf of same-sex spouses the same way as those for spouses in heterosexual marriages.

The Immigration Bill: What’s There, What’s Missing & What’s Next

The Immigration Bill: What’s There, What’s Missing & What’s NextRepost from Immigration Equality

This afternoon, the long-anticipated comprehensive immigration reform bill from the Senate’s “Gang of 8” will finally be introduced. It is a big, complex piece of legislation that addresses many different immigration issues. Our legal team is hard at work reading the bill and analyzing its many proposals, and what those mean for LGBT immigrants and their families.

We already know, however, some of the high – and low – points of the bill.

The legislation includes a path to citizenship for many undocumented people. It also includes the DREAM Act, which will allow young, undocumented youth (many of whom are LGBT) a path to citizenship as well. Both of these components will help countless immigrants – including LGBT immigrants – finally emerge from the shadows and have an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our country. The bill also includes repeal of the 1-year filing deadline for individuals seeking asylum in the United States, which is a significant obstacle faced by many LGBT asylum seekers. Immigration Equality supports all of these important measures.

As we anticipated, however, the base bill does not include the Uniting American Families Act. (A “base bill” is the first version of the legislation, before any lawmakers have an opportunity to make amendments, or changes, to the language.)

UAFA’s exclusion renders the bill incomplete. It is not comprehensive and is does not reflect the values or diversity of our country. Senators on the Judiciary Committee must allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to add UAFA as an amendment during that process.  We need a majority of Committee members to support adding UAFA to the bill. This means the time is NOW to contact Judiciary Committee Senators and demand they vote for UAFA during the amendment process. Continue Reading

Obama unveils LGBT-inclusive immigration plan

obama-immigrationreform-jan2013Repost from The Washington Blade

Before a cheering audience at a Las Vegas high school, President Obama unveiled on Tuesday his much anticipated plan for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a provision aimed at ensuring bi-national same-sex couples can stay together in the United States.

In a speech before supporters at Del Sol High School, Obama emphasized the need to pass comprehensive legislation to fix problems in the U.S. immigration code, but didn’t explicitly mention the provision in his plan that would enable gay Americans to sponsor foreign same-sex partners for residency in the United States.

“I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long,” Obama said. “I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.”

Obama’s plan has four major parts: 1) enhancing border security; 2) cracking down on companies that hire undocumented workers; 3) holding undocumented immigrants “accountable” before they earn citizenship by, among other things, requiring them to pay back taxes with a penalty and learn English; and 4) streamlining the legal immigration system for families, workers and employers.

The president’s commitment to bi-national same-sex couples is found under the fourth pillar of his plan under the heading, “Keep Families Together.” Continue Reading

Related Content:

White House Fact Sheet: Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules

Immigration Equality Praises President’s Proposal in Favor of LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell

John McCain: LGBT Issues ‘Best Way To Derail’ Immigration Bill

Napolitano’s same-sex couples directive: a milestone in immigration justice

Repost from The Guardian

Until now, even legally married gay couples were discriminated against in immigration cases. Meaningful reform begins at last

Things seemed grim, last fall, for John Brandoli, a US citizen in Massachusetts, and his Trinidadian husband, Michael. Though their marriage was recognized by the state, it did not come with the benefit they most urgently needed. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), John could not sponsor Michael for a green card.

As a result, Michael was facing deportation to Trinidad, one of the most dangerous places in the hemisphere for gay people. Michael’s American husband and mother-in-law were very anxious when they called my organization, Immigration Equality, for help. Our team – which talks to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants every day – mounted a media and advocacy campaign to stop Michael’s deportation. Thanks to his determined family, and the support of Senator John Kerry, he won.

In August 2011, the Obama administration had announced that couples like Michael and John shouldn’t have to pull out all the stops to stay together. The administration pledged to review pending deportation cases and grant “prosecutorial discretion” to those who had committed no crime and could show equities like ties to an American family. When the administration described the plan on phone calls with press, advocacy groups, and congressional staffers, they stated clearly: “We consider LGBT families to be families in this context.”

This was a watershed. The American immigration system had neverconsidered LGBT families like John and Michael to be families in any context. Until 1990, LGBT foreigners could be barred from entering the US entirely. America’s immigration system is based on family unification, but gay families don’t count. Continue Reading

Out of Harm’s Way

Repost from The Advocate

NEARLY SIX MONTHS AGO, the White House unveiled a global blueprint for promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT individuals, countless numbers of whom live in countries where they are imprisoned, blackmailed, and in places like Iraq, sometimes crushed to death with cement blocks.

The State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Report, released last week, provides a grim, if incomplete, catalog of such atrocities. A gay and transgender resource center in Cape Town, South Africa, documented about 10 cases per week of lesbians targeted with brutal sexual assault, often referred to as “corrective rape.” Violence and extortion at the hands of police officers is pervasive in El Salvador, Turkey, Indonesia, and Cote d’Ivoire. National leaders denounce homosexuality as “the divorce of humanity from its integrity” (Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) and “strange behavior that even God will not tolerate” (Gambian president Yahya Jammeh). And for country after country, the sentence “There were no known LGBT organizations” appears throughout the report like a rasping chorus. Continue Reading

Related Post: Widespread Pattern of Abuses Against LGBT People Worldwide


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