(Washington, DC, November 20, 2014)—Tonight, President Obama announced a series of executive actions that will provide work permits and temporary relief from the threat of deportation for close to five million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
“We welcome today’s announcement as a first step towards repairing a broken and discriminatory immigration system that has victimized undocumented immigrants and their families, including at least 267,000 undocumented people who identify as LGBT,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Policy Director Maya Rupert. “We applaud the vision and courage of our President in making good on his promise to act on immigration reform. We know that this is a first step and we are gratified that many of the cruel policies of the past will be replaced with more humane and effective strategies. However, we remain deeply concerned that the plan leaves out too many LGBTQ immigrant families. LGBTQ families are less likely to have legally recognized or biological relationships with each other, and thus relief based wholly on familial ties will exclude too many LGBTQ families. In addition, many of the restrictions requiring consistent employment and limiting access for people with non-violent criminal histories will disproportionately impact LGBTQ immigrants, especially in the transgender community.”
The President’s plan consists of several key fixes to the current system, including: Creation of a program for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who have been in the country for at least five years to receive deferrals from deportation and work permits; expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which provides deportation deferrals and work permits for young people who came to the country as children, including moving back the cut-off date and eliminating the age limit for relief under this program; and elimination of the draconian and ineffective “Secure Communities” enforcement program and increase to enforcement officers’ ability to determine deportation priorities.
“NCLR remains committed to working with the White House and the new Congress leadership to fix our broken immigration system, not just for LGBTQ families but for as many immigrant families as possible. Today’s announcement by the President is a good start and we remain dedicated to advancing the efforts to fix the immigration structure into system that is inclusive and humane for all,” Rupert concluded.
NCLR has a long-standing commitment to improving the immigration system. For 20 years, NCLR has operated an Asylum & Immigration Project, which has made significant legal gains and secured major victories for LGBTQ asylum seekers and immigrants. We are also a member of the Coordinating Committee of the Alliance for Citizenship (“A4C”), the umbrella coalition leading the national reform campaign. In 2012, in order to make DACA a more effective and accessible program for as many LGBTQ young people as possible, NCLR collaborated with the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and many generous contributors and created the LGBTQ DREAMers fund, which raised over $100,000 to pay the DACA fees for over 200 LGBTQ young people.