“LGBTQ people are immigrants and immigration is an LGBTQ issue”

(Washington, D.C., April 10, 2013)—Today, national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations join local, state, and national immigration, civil rights, and LGBTQ groups and advocates marching for justice for all immigrants on National Immigration Day of Action.

Standing in solidarity with the immigration movement in calling on Congress to do the right thing and pass fair and humane comprehensive immigration reform are the 26 undersigned groups, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; GLAAD; the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR); the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a project of the United We Dream Network; National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA); and Immigration Equality.

“LGBTQ people are immigrants and immigration is an LGBTQ issue,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who spoke from the stage on the West Lawn of the Capitol representing a broad range of allied organizations at the march.

The groups also call on media to tell the stories of undocumented people that shed light on the many ways the broken immigration system harms millions of Americans, including through family separation and inhumane conditions and abuse in detention facilities.

“Federal immigration reform is about respecting the humanity in each and all of us, including DREAMers and our families, migrant farm workers, LGBTQ binational couples, and transgender people in need of asylum,” said Jorge Gutierrez, project coordinator of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a project of the United We Dream Network. Gutierrez is openly gay and undocumented.

“As a transgender woman who was detained by immigration authorities, I have first-hand experience with the inhumane treatment and abuse in detention facilities that for years have threatened the health, safety and even lives of millions of immigrants,” said Bamby Salcedo, president of the Trans-Latin@ Coalition. “I was sexually assaulted when I was forced to be housed in a dorm with about 100 men in a detention facility, and I was denied adequate access to HIV medication and hormone treatment. These are the harms countless transgender detainees face; we must put an end to these atrocities. We all deserve a chance to live with dignity, to pursue our dreams, and to work for a better future and better quality of life.”

“The current broken system hurts, scapegoats and vilifies all immigrants, including LGBTQ immigrants, and their friends and families. Comprehensive federal immigration reform is an urgent priority for our nation and the LGBTQ community,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“It is important for the LGBTQ and immigrants’ rights communities to work together and support one another. We’re all working to be treated equally and to be able to enjoy lives free of discrimination and fear, for ourselves and our families. We’ve seen the success of unity in places like Maryland, Colorado and Washington. In all of these places, our two communities prevented our opponents from pitting us against each other. We cannot stop now,” said Dave Montez, chief of staff of GLAAD, a member of the coalition.

Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel B. Tiven said, “Immigration Equality helps thousands of LGBTQ immigrant families every year: undocumented families, mixed-status families, DREAMers, asylum seekers fleeing persecution, and detainees locked in immigration jail. LGBTQ people demand reform of a system in which our families are invisible. In the words of binational couple activist Pablo Garcia: ‘I want a path to citizenship. But I don’t want to wait 13 years to be a citizen. If I were straight I would be one already.’”

“At stake in the comprehensive immigration reform debate is our ability to keep our families together and to recognize the diversity of all our families. LGBTQ people are challenged across the entire spectrum of the broken immigration system and comprehensive reform is needed now,” said Ben de Guzman, co-director, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA).

For more stories of undocumented people, please contact Erik Olvera at EOlvera@NCLRights.org.

National LGBTQ Organizations in Support of National Immigration Day of Action:

American Civil Liberties Union, Center For Black Equity, CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers, Freedom to Marry, Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), GetEQUAL, GLAAD, GLAD, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Center for Transgender Equality, National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Minority AIDS Council, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, PFLAG National, Pride at Work, AFL CIO, Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a project of the United We Dream Network, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), The Trevor Project, Trans-Latin@ Coalition