Those in the LGBTQ undocumented community had much to celebrate this month.
Along with honoring PRIDE month — a time for LGBTQ communities to come together and celebrate being themselves as well as an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community — LGBTQ immigrants also embraced their intersectionality.
There are an estimated 267,000 undocumented people who identify as LGBTQ, according to the Williams Institute at UCLA. Being both LGBTQ and undocumented results in a complex convergence of oppression that often time goes unnoticed by mainstream media when covering each group separately.
Despite the Trump administration’s blatant track record of inspiring anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies throughout the year, this month proved to be remarkable.
For one moment, a breath of audible relief rippled throughout the nation after the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision rescinded Trump’s appeal to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The DACA program allows eligible applicants in the United States to attend college, work as employers in the labor force and continue living their lives without fearing deportation. DACA was always intended to be a temporary program, and there is still a major push to continue drafting legislation that incorporates all members, including those who identify as LGBTQ, in the immigrant community.
“The important thing is, immigrants in this country and the DACAmented community won and Trump lost,” Fraser Muir, policy advocate and activist, said during an LGBTQ DACA decision forum on June 25.
The Supreme Court’s decision is especially important for immigrants like Muir who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. However, for many people, the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision left an open chasm of confusion.
Should DACAmented individuals reapply for the program? What exactly does the Supreme Court’s decision mean?
Many advocacy organizations like Immigrants Rising — an organization aimed to benefit undocumented students — warn that the fight for citizenship is not over, and continue to use their social media pages to provide resources and encouragement to the undocumented community while social distancing.
Moreover, The National LGBTQ Task Force covered a massive immigration rally at Washington DC, where executive director Rea Carey told the audience: “From time to time, someone will ask me, a white lesbian: ‘What does immigration have to do with LGBT rights? Why are you spending your time on that issue?’ Here’s what I tell them, unequivocally: Immigration is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and human rights issue!”
As undocumented individuals and allies advocate for more inclusive legislation, a few acts stand out.
The DREAM and Promise Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth, DACA, TPS and DED communities. Not to be confused with an individual’s state’s DREAM Act, which, for example, the California DREAM Act, does not provide immigrants a pathway to citizenship.
However, the less appealing alternative would be the BRIDGE Act which makes it possible for people who meet certain requirements to apply for and receive “provisional protected presence” and work authorization. In other words, it would not provide a pathway to citizenship but would prohibit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services from sharing information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
During times of hateful xenophobic rhetoric and policies, it is important to recognize the diversity in America’s many communities. To take action, talk to elected officials about supporting immigrant rights, specifically your representative or senators. Encourage your elected officials, teachers, principal or superintendent to support immigrants and undocumented students.