'LGBT undocumented immigrants are among the most invisible of the invisible. Many inhabit a double closet, afraid of disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and afraid of disclosing that they are undocumented.'
(New York, April 30, 2010) - As immigrants and allies across the country prepare to hold events tomorrow on May 1, Lambda Legal condemns the shameful immigration law recently passed in Arizona and calls upon Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides decent and fair treatment for all immigrants, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) or who are living with HIV.
Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal:
"LGBT undocumented immigrants are among the most invisible of the invisible. Many inhabit a double closet, afraid of disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and afraid of disclosing that they are undocumented.
"Gross inequities in our country's current immigration system disproportionately harm LGBT people and people living with HIV - in extremely grievous ways. We need reform to address these critical problems. Currently, all bi-national same-sex couples (including those who are legally married) are denied the ability afforded heterosexual U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor a foreign-born spouse to immigrate lawfully to our country. At least 36,000 same-sex couples are having their families torn apart as a result of this discriminatory policy.
"In addition, without a path to legalization, LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants who are victims of hate crimes or who experience sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV discrimination or other violations of their civil rights often are deterred from seeking justice, out of fear of arrest or deportation. At Lambda Legal, we've experienced first hand that acts of anti-LGBT bias sometimes cannot be addressed due to such concerns.
"Furthermore, those undocumented immigrants held in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention frequently are kept in remote jails with little-to-no access to attorneys who can help them, which further contributes to the challenges LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants face in seeking asylum. Fair access to asylum proceedings is critical because, in some countries, LGBT people's lives are at risk. Immigrants in detention often are also denied needed health care, and this is particularly dangerous for detainees living with HIV and some transgender detainees.
"Since the 1970s, Lambda Legal has been committed to fighting for the rights of LGBT immigrants, and we urge others to stand up and be counted in the fight for comprehensive immigration. That reform must include, at a minimum, an end to the unequal treatment of same- sex bi-national couples, revision of unfair restrictions on asylum, respect for the due process rights of those held in detention, and a path to legalization.
"Lambda Legal embraces the richness that immigrants bring to our country and recognizes the strength and diversity that LGBT immigrants, documented or undocumented, bring to the LGBT community. As we pursue our lawsuit against the state of Arizona for its elimination of health insurance benefits for the partners of its lesbian and gay employees, we condemn the state governments further manifestation of bias in its new immigration law. We stand in solidarity with immigration reform advocates and are grateful for the many who have stood up for the rights of LGBT and HIV-positive people," Cathcart said.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
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