The Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, the program instituted under the Obama administration to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children from being deported, will affect the lives of over 800,000 current United States residents. In a study released earlier this year, The Williams Institute at the UCLA School Of Law found that 75,000 DREAM Act participants and 36,000 who are currently protected under DACA are on the LGBTQ spectrum. Therefore it seems clear–DACA is an issue that affects the LGBTQ community in Virginia and the United States as a whole.
In light of this, it’s no surprise that denunciations of the repeal, announced on Tuesday, September 5 by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, came swiftly and vociferously from quite a few LGBTQ advocacy groups. “This is yet another hateful decision by the Trump-Pence Administration,” Alejandro Avilés, HR’s Director of Outreach and Engagement, said in a press release. “A White House that has pardoned human rights violators like Joe Arpaio and espoused racism and white nationalism has now decided that hundreds of thousands of young people–many of whom have never known a home outside the U.S.–are no longer welcome here. Students, with bright futures ahead of them, ready to help make our country truly great, will be sent back to places they don’t remember, breaking families apart and setting our country back immeasurably.”
The HRC press release also points out that some of the LGBTQ people receiving protection under DACA may be sent back to countries with poor human rights records on LGBTQ issues. They cite a recent increase in violence against transgender women in El Salvador, which has been severe enough to lead the United Nations to call for an investigation into these crimes.
The Transgender Law Center’s executive director, Kris Hayashi, also referenced the plight of transgender women with insecure immigration status in her statement about the DACA repeal, but she pointed out places where the US government’s efforts fall short as well. “At a time when the U.S. is raiding homes, militarizing the border, holding transgender people in abusive detention conditions, and denying asylum for transgender women who fear murder and persecution should they be sent back, this reversal is another act of violence adding to a climate of fear for our communities.”
Executive Director Kate Kendell of the National Center For Lesbian Rights also released a statement condemning the DACA rescinding. “For the 11 percent of DACA recipients who identify as LGBT, today’s announcement is even more chilling,” she said in the statement. “In an announcement that lasted only minutes, this administration just turned the lives of tens of thousands of our community members upside down, putting their dreams, their futures, and potentially their safety at risk. We join with the millions of others who pledge to do all in our power to resist this brutally vicious and depraved directive and to stand with these young people.”
Trump has said that Congress needs to act to save DACA in the six months before the repeal will take effect, which happens on March 5, 2018. “We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion–but through the lawful Democratic process–while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” Trump said in a statement released after Sessions’ press conference. Continuing to push the narrative with which he attempted to justify his push for a border wall, he contrasted those currently benefiting from DACA with American-born US citizens, saying, “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan affirmed his commitment to create a more permanent solution to the problem those without documentation face when attempting to resolve their US residency. “It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country,” Ryan said in a statement.
What Congress and the Trump administration come up with is a subject of great interest over the coming months for those concerned with LGBTQ rights and human rights in general. GayRVA will bring you updates as events warrant.
Photo via Twitter.