Local immigrant youth protest family separation, new N.C. driver licenses
A new study from the University of California Los Angeles’ School of Law’s Williams Institute has found that 900,000 individuals within the adult immigrant population in the U.S. identify as LGBT. The number includes approximately 267,000 LGBT people who are undocumented.
“An estimated 900,000 adults in this country are LGBT immigrants, among whom more than 48,000 are in a same-sex couple in which one or both spouses or partners are not U.S. citizens,” researcher Dr. Gary Gates said in a release. “Under current immigration policies, many of these couples, along with the 24,000 children they are raising, may face separation if same-sex spouses or partners are not able to sponsor each other for a work visa.”
The report found that 3.1 percent of undocumented immigrant men identify as LGBT compared to percent of women.
The report further found that LGBT undocumented immigrants are younger than the broader undocumented population, with 49 percent of LGBT undocumented immigrants estimated to be 30 years old or younger.
The new report came as a national coalition of immigrant and LGBT groups held their “11 Million Coming Out Week of Action” during the second week in March. Organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) and United We Dream, the campaign seeks reform to current immigration laws. The campaign’s slogan is “Legislation Must Recognize Our Humanity.”
“Undocuqueer leaders across the country are calling for a pathway for citizenship that doesn’t leave anyone behind. We will not choose one issue over the other,” Jorge Gutierrez, United We Dream’s Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project coordinator, said in a release. “Protecting the unity of our immigrant families and dignity of our LGBTQ communities is at the center of our organizing and advocacy efforts.”
Activism on the local level has been building, too, with youth and allies organized by Charlotte’s Latin American Coalition. The group has held several outreach activities, demonstrations and protests over the past several years, including a recent 60-person march in Uptown Charlotte on March 9.
Undocumented immigrant youth in North Carolina are protesting immigration rules that could separate their families, as well as new driver license requirements for those young people who have received deferred action under an executive order from President Barack Obama. The new North Carolina driver licenses are color-coded in bright pink and include the words “No Lawful Status” printed largely along the bottom of the license.
Advocates say the licenses could lead to confusion and discrimination against young people living lawfully in the U.S. under Obama’s recent deferred action program.
National LGBT immigrant youth leaders say their movement is working to bridge two unique yet allied struggles.
“As a person of multiple identities, I want to ensure that the different facets of my life no longer have to be divided and made to settle,” Alma Leyva, a QUIP leader from Orange County, Calif., said in a release. “Winning immigration reform that is not inclusive to LGBTQ community would uplift one identity while continuing to marginalize another. I want immigration reform to recognize all of my humanity.” : :