RALEIGH, N.C. — The LGBT Center of Raleigh is among nearly three dozen local, regional and national LGBT organizations contributing to the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ and L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s LGBT DREAMers Fund, an effort to assist young LGBT undocumented immigrants pay for and receive work permits under President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing those brought to the U.S. as children to remain here legally by applying for two-year, renewable work permits.

Under current law, young undocumented immigrants cannot obtain lawful employment, putting the $470 work permit application fee out of reach for many. The new LGBT DREAMers Fund will help youth pay the fees. The fund was launched with a challenge grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and established at the Liberty Hill Foundation.

James Miller, executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, said his group felt a call to stand united with undocumented LGBT youth and with other immigrants.

“I think it was more the solidarity movement here,” he said. “Many organizations, especially immigration organizations, have stood steadfast with LGBT organizations. It’s one of those moments in history where we can finally pay it forward. The immigration movement has really taken off and is center stage and is, for some reason, still a social. It puts us in the same category sometimes.”

Miller was also moved by his own personal experiences. A friend in college, he said, was an undocumented student from Africa.

“I have friends who are undocumented who came to this country to get a better life,” Miller said. “LGBT people have a great life in America in comparison to some of the countries people are emigrating from. One of my friends was an asylum seeker from an African nation who also identified as a gay man. To hear the stories he had, it just meant so much to me to know that we have an opportunity here, especially as an LGBT center and as individuals, to step up and protect all LGBT people.”

Undocumented youth can begin to apply to the LGBT DREAMers Fund on Sept. 21, 9 a.m. Pacific, at libertyhill.org/LGBTDreamersFund. Those interested in contributing to assist the fund can visit libertyhill.org/LGBTDreamersContribute.

The fund takes its name from the DREAM Act. Currently stalled in Congress, the DREAM Act would allow young undocumented immigrants a path to permanent U.S. residency and eventually citizenship.

Other o
Organizations that have contributed so far to the fund:

• Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of the  Palm Center
• Center on Halsted (Chicago)
• The Center/GLBT Community Center of Colorado
• The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
• Centerlink
• Equality Federation
• Family Equality Council
• Freedom to Marry
• Gay City Health Project (Seattle)
• Gay Community Center of Richmond
• Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
• Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
• Greater Palm Springs Pride
• GSA Network
• Horizons Foundation
• Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
• Immigration Equality
• Paul Kawata, Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council
• L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
• Lambda Legal
• LGBT Center of Central PA
• LGBT Center of Raleigh
• LGBT Project of the ACLU
• Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
• MassEquality
• Mautner Project Board and Staff
• Metropolitan Charities
• National Center for Lesbian Rights
• National Coalition for LGBT Health
• National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
• National Stonewall Democrats
• The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)
• One Colorado
• Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
• The OUTreach Center (Madison, WI)
• Pride Foundation
• Pridelines Youth Services (Miami Shores, FL)
• Q Center (Portland, OR)
• Rainbow Community Center (Contra Costa, CA)
• Ruth Ellis Center, Inc. (Detroit)
• San Diego LGBT Community Center
• Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
• Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
• San Francisco LGBT Community Center
• Transgender Law Center
• True Colors

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.