Immigration Reform is a Key LGBT Issue

In anticipation of immigration reform proposals expected this week, a strong consensus has emerged that immigration is a key issue for the LGBT community, which includes an estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBT adults. This is especially true for transgender immigrants and their loved ones, who are especially vulnerable to discrimination, violence, detention, and deportation. 

In NCTE’s Blueprint for Equality, we noted that: “As our political system fails to deliver meaningful immigration reform, millions of individuals and families in the United States face unspeakable hardships, including the forced separation of families, escalating deportations of individuals with deep roots in their communities who have committed no serious wrong­doing, and indefinite detention in cruel and abusive conditions. The government’s failure to recognize LGBT families exacerbates the hardships on our community, and transgender people frequently find their relation­ships challenged regardless of the gender of their partner.”

For several years NCTE has worked with many other human rights advocates to reform our costly and inhumane system of prolonged immigration detention in which transgender people—many of them fleeing violence and persecution in their countries of origin—are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Reforming this system, as well as eliminating arbitrary barriers for transgender people filing for asylum, must be a part of reform. Immigration reform also can’t work for transgender and other workers, immigrant and non-immigrant alike, if it imposes an employee verification system that unnecessarily invades personal privacy.

NCTE is proud to be among hundreds of LGBT organizations across the country advocating for immigration reform that protects all of our communities. Just one of the many ways we do this work is by joining with other advocates to weigh in with members of Congress and the White House on the many important issues involved in reform.

Click here to see a sampling of letters NCTE has joined on immigration reform over the last year.

 Sign the Out 4 Citizenship pledge to commit to inclusive immigration reform.


6 Responses to Immigration Reform is a Key LGBT Issue

  1. Forgive me for feeling a bit callus in this matter,but the key here is that these people are in fact undocumented immigrants who entered our country illegally,so why should the resources of your organization be spent on these persons who should be returned to their country of origin to fight their battles there.
    Your focus should be mounted on the issues facing the thousands of U.S. citizens who suffer at the hands of our own government,there is so much that needs to be done for those of us who where born here legally,perhaps if you focus on fixing our problems here things will be better for the ones who decide to come here through legal channels in the future.

  2. Mercedes says:

    Dear NCTE: I understand why you are phrasing this in this way (i.e. “is an LGBT issue”), especially given comments like the above. However, this is an example of what I believe continues to hold back our activism from its full potential: the idea of in-or-out, it’s-ours-or-it’s-not community creation. That implies ownership, and will always be contradicted by people who do not feel that they have an investment in what’s “owned.” An adjustment in how we think about and speak about intersecting communities is needed.

    I agree very much that we should care and be involved, but I think when we try to jump into an intersecting issue in this way, we risk committing the same mistakes that the LGB umbrella has with trans issues for decades. Yes, continue to network with immigrant trans people and communities, and give them a voice. But it is far more effective to show people stories they can empathize with, than to just tell them that they should care.

    And to shelle48Shelle, if we as a movement keep focused solely on self-interest, self-benefit and self-betterment, others be damned, we will only ever be in this struggle of the acceptable “normal” vs. the demon “other,” and struggling not to be that “other.” That cannot create real and lasting change. Oppression thrives when the oppressed are occupied with feeding upon each other.

    • This organization who’s Title is “National Center for Transgender Equality” Makes a continuous effort to promote issues that have little to do with what their title suggests but rather promotes issues more in tune with LGB and immigrant issues.I haven’t noticed to many of their posts that cover issues that really promote Transgenders,I will continue to follow but in my opinion our issues as a group are more diverse than those of the Immigrants and LGB community.So why don’t they busy themselves with our needs,or change their title to reflect what their true mission is.

      • I do however have no problem with seeking protection for these Immigrants when they are detained here,they have every right to dignified treatment,while being detained by our Government.

  3. Shelle,

    Thanks for the comments. We know that when we work on an important issue like immigration reform, we are likely to raise concern from some folks who may prefer that we focus on other issues that they personally think are more useful to trans people like themselves.

    First let me reassure you that our work on immigration does not take away from our work on other important issues. In case you missed it, here is a link to our 13 goals we think we can get done in 2013. It’s an aggressive list but we are going at it hard and will complete it or come pretty darn close.

    The list includes finally getting the Social Security Administration to adopt reasonable gender marker change policy and getting some really solid trans protections in healthcare, housing, education and other areas. And you are going to see some real progress on eliminating surgery exclusions from health insurance plans.

    None of that is slowed down by caring that we as Americans–as human beings– treat fairly the tens of thousands of transgender (and other) people who are in this country for whatever reason.

    A big hope of mine is that we take the opportunity of comprehensive immigration reform to educate ourselves about how many immigrants are here and are being detained and/or mistreated simply because they are trans, or LGB.

    And I hope we can educate ourselves about what happens when a very dumb and dangerous immigration detention system is allowed–even designed–to disrespect trans people and how that spills over into other kinds of jails and prisons where non-immigrant trans people often end up abused just because we are trans.

    This isn’t an either or proposition, supporting either trans rights or immigrant rights. Every policy debate taking place in Washington that has impact on so many trans people NEEDS to be on NCTE’s agenda. Every trans person, every person, needs to be treated fairly and that’s what NCTE works for. We shall continue kicking butt for all trans people.

    Mara Keisling
    Executive Director

    • Dearest Mara thanks for your kind response,to my concerns,and keep up the good work,I did read the agenda laid out in the link and hope that we as group can achieve this and more in the coming year.

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