by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Thirty-six LGBT organizations have written an open letter to the Obama administration calling for an end to immigration raids and immediate relief from violence for refugees.
The administration has arrested more than 120 immigrants during raids starting January 2, targeting Central American families who came to the United States without permission since 2014.
The LGBT groups directed their letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, the official who has immediate responsibility for the administration's immigration policy.
'We are committed to ensuring the safety, health, and welfare of all LGBTQ immigrants in the United States, and we are disappointed that DHS has decided to use tactics that instill fear into immigrant communities,' the letter says.
'These raids plainly contravene President Obama's directive to 'more humanely' enforce our nation's immigration laws. Instead of raids, DHS should take measurable steps to protect people that are fleeing tremendous levels of violence.'
Many of those being targeted for deportation are survivors of sexual assault and other forms of violence, the letter says, or they have lost family members to violence in their home countries.
Consequently they suffer from PTSD, generalized anxiety, and depression, which qualify them as people with disabilities eligible for assistance under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The LGBT groups outline the impact that raids have on immigrant communities:
'Children are pulled from school, immigrant-owned businesses suffer, and immigrants fear reaching out for basic services, even if they themselves are not the targets of the raids,' their letter points out.
'These negative impacts are even more harrowing for LGBTQ immigrants that already report higher levels of violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. These raids will only serve to push our LGBTQ immigrant community further into the shadows.'
The 36 LGBT groups join 60 Asian-Pacific Islander organizations and 150 Democratic members of the House of Representatives in calling for the Obama administration to stop raids against Central American refugees.
Signers of the letter are: Aquí Estamos, Association of Latino/as Motivating Action (ALMA), CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Collectively Free, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), the DC Center for the LGBT Community, Equality New Mexico, GALAEI, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, GLAD Alliance, GSA Network, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, La Clínica del Pueblo, Lambda Legal, League of United Latin American Citizens, the LGBT Center Orange County, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Manantial de Gracia, Marriage Equality USA, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Our Family Coalition, Pride at Work, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, RAD Remedy, Social Workers for Reproductive Justice, Trans Pride Initiative, Trans Student Educational Resources, and United We Dream.
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