Los Angeles—Today, President Donald Trump issued an executive order revoking the temporary legal immigration status of hundreds of thousands of young people raised in the United States. The directive effectively voids an Obama-era program granting temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants under 30 who arrived in the United States as children. Enacted in 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows those young people, often called DREAMers, to live and work in the United States for a renewable period of two years. Enforcement of the order will be delayed for six months to give Congress time to consider and pass legislation.
DREAMers have lived in the United States since they were children and are American in every way except for their immigration status. Many have never traveled to their country of origin and do not speak its language, but, without DACA, they live in fear of deportation and are extremely limited in educational and professional opportunities because of their immigration status. An estimated 36,000 DACA recipients are LGBTQ.
“DACA has allowed nearly a million young people who grew up in this country to get an education, enter the work force and live without fear of deportation,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “DREAMers have been at the forefront of the movements for the civil rights for both immigrants and LGBTQ people and the program is especially important to the thousands of LGBTQ immigrants who call California home. Transgender or HIV-positive immigrants are especially vulnerable, facing abuse or lack of essential medical treatments in detention centers. They face even worse if deported to countries like Honduras, where violence against LGBTQ people is endemic, or Venezuela, which just publicly announced it has run out of vital drugs to treat HIV. DREAMers have already endured years of uncertainty and anxiety due to Congress’ failure to pass meaningful immigration reform, and the President’s revocation of DACA is simply inhumane. We urge members of Congress to quickly pass the BRIDGE Act and other pending pieces of legislation to protect these young Americans and to prevent them from cruelly being uprooted from their homes, families, careers and lives.”
The BRIDGE Act, by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), would extend DACA by three years, giving Congress additional time to work out a more permanent program and pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. Equality California also has sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to support the DREAM Act of 2017, sponsored by California Senators Feinstein and Harris, and another DACA-related bill, the American HOPE Act. The letter also asks members of Congress to oppose the ‘Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy’ (RAISE) Act, which would cut overall immigration by 50 percent over the next decade. The RAISE Act would also put an annual cap of 50,000 on refugees, many of whom are fleeing anti-LGBTQ persecution in their home countries, and eliminate the green card lottery, which has long been a means to increase immigration diversity.
California is home to more than 250,000 LGBTQ undocumented immigrants. While they pay taxes and are an integral part of our communities across the state and of mixed immigration status families, federal immigration policy forces them to exist in the shadows, living in fear of arrest, incarceration and deportation. The Williams Institute estimates that there are 113,300 people in the United States in same-sex relationships in which one person is not an American citizen. Among the most vulnerable of all are more than 12,400 minor children of LGBTQ couples in which neither parent is a citizen.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org