February 25, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Community Supports Immigration Rights

By Christian Balderas

It’s not news that the Trump Administration’s actions and rhetoric vehemently denounce undocumented immigration into the United States. Yet, a recent proposal by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests that even lawful immigration may be under threat.

On Sept. 22, the DHS unveiled a proposal that will make it harder for immigrants to enter the United States legally, and qualify for and receive green cards and visas. The policy proposal has since been posted to the Federal Register and is currently in its 60-day comment period allowing interest groups and members of the public to weigh in. The Trump Administration will have to absorb the comments, consider them and potentially review their policy before they give a final rule.

The policy reform bypasses Congress and can be put into effect as early as next year. Consequently, members of the local Los Angeles LGBTQ+ community gathered at the Trans Wellness Center last Friday night for what the organization called a “public charge party.”

Armed with laptops and free Wi-Fi, participants were welcomed to submit their commentary and denounce the proposed policy.

Here’s what you need to know:  

This proposal centers on the public charge rule, a fundamental immigration policy dating back to the 1880s. It is designed to test whether those immigrating into the United States would be a burden to the federal government and taxpayers. Non-citizens predicted to become a “public charge” can be denied entry and permanent residency.

Previously, the term “public charge” was defined narrowly with cash benefit programs as an indicator of self-sufficiency. The Trump Administration seeks to significantly expand that definition by including those who receive or are anticipated to receive one or more public benefits to cover basic needs. That includes SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid or Section 8 housing vouchers – programs that millions of immigrants benefit from. Additionally, the new criteria include a higher household income threshold at 250 percent of poverty guidelines, a requirement that is predicted to affect over half of all family-based green card applicants.

Refugees and asylum seekers are not affected, and the government says any benefits received before the rule goes into effect will not count against the noncitizen.

Ultimately, identification of a “public charge person” is left to a complicated rubric and a fair amount of case-by-case judgment by USCIS immigration officers. Nonetheless, there remains a feeling of fear, anxiety and worry among the US immigrant community regardless of their status as a refugee, visa holder or green card applicant.

Public Policy and Operations Manager at the Los Angeles LGBT Center Maria Melo told the Pride L.A. that the Center started working with the coalition Protecting Immigrant Families after hearing concerns about how immigration policy affects the LGBTQ+ community.

“In our case, because we are health service providers, our clients began to tell us that they heard about ‘public charge’ in the news, and they were afraid to come to appointments and receive services,” Melo said.

Lawful immigrants are actively dis-enrolling from public assisted programs to avoid being identified as a public charge. This sharp drop in use of public benefits by lawful non-citizens and their dependents is not an isolated case; chilling effects are being reported all across the country.

Photo: Equaldex.
It is still illegal to identify as gay or bisexual in 73 countries around the world.



Why should the LGBTQ+ community care?

“As someone who is gay, I think it’s important to support other communities,” Jax Lust, an attendee of the Center’s event on Friday, said.

Moreover, Isaias Guzman, an organizer with the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, said that it is important to build bridges across communities.

“One of the things I believe is that we need to build an intersectional movement for social justice and health equity,” Guzman said. “When we saw that our immigrant communities are being attacked, I wanted to show up and show that the LGBT community will support in solidarity with the immigrant communities. Immigrant communities are intersectional – there are hundreds, if not thousands, of LGBTQ immigrants living in the U.S. who are going to be affected by this public charge proposal.”

“There are many countries where being LGBT is illegal,” Melo said. “People are wrongly imprisoned and even put to death for simply being who they are. Like every immigrant, LGBT immigrants come here seeking a better life. This administration’s policy is not what the United States is about.”

Individuals have until Dec. 10 to submit a formal comment. Participants can either send their commentary directly on the federal government website regulations.gov or utilize the submission tool and letter template provided on protectingimmigrantfamilies.org.

 

Related Posts

Upcoming HBO Series About Drag Shows

February 21, 2020

February 21, 2020

“We’re Here” Debuts this spring By Staff Writer Learn more about a new HBO series debuting this spring that revolves...

New Pride Festival for Los Angeles Area

February 21, 2020

February 21, 2020

By Staff Writer A new Pride festival is coming to the Los Angeles area this May. This year, for the...

Transgender Care Services Coming to Baldwin Park

February 18, 2020

February 18, 2020

By Staff Writer A new Planned Parenthood center opening soon in Baldwin Park will provide transgender care services to a...

Texas Files Suit Against California’s Travel Ban to State

February 18, 2020

February 18, 2020

Texas asks U.S. Supreme Court to overturn California’s travel ban to Texas By Sam Catanzaro Texas is asking the U.S....

WeHo Opens Nominations For 2020 Rainbow Key Awards

February 18, 2020

February 18, 2020

Nominations will be Accepted Until Thursday, February 27 By Staff Writer The City of West Hollywood is gathering nominations for...

News Brief: Calls for LGBTQ CA Supreme Court Judge

February 14, 2020

February 14, 2020

Sen. Scott Winer and Assemblymember Todd Gloria introduce send letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom By Kerry Slater Two prominent state...

Addressing LA’s Increase in Syphilis

February 14, 2020

February 14, 2020

Legislation introduced to allow expanded rapid testing By Chole Marie Rivera February 4, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation...

Cirque Du Soleil Presents Equality Night at Dodger Stadium

February 12, 2020

February 12, 2020

Proceeds benefiting Los Angeles LGBT Center By Chole Marie Rivera On Thursday, February 13 Cirque Du Soleil hosted Equality Night,...

Edify TV: LGBTQIA+ Health Conference

February 11, 2020

February 11, 2020

Learn more about the annual Southern California LGBTQIA+ Health Conference that was held last weekend at the David Geffen School of...

LGBTQ+ Representation in the Entertainment Industry

February 11, 2020

February 11, 2020

Continuing its commitment to lead the push for diversity, equality and inclusion of quality LGBTQ+ content in entertainment, ClexaCon is...

City of WeHo Commits More Funds Toward LA Pride

February 10, 2020

February 10, 2020

By Chole Rivera The 50th Annual L.A. Pride is on the horizon and the City of West Hollywood recently took...

Man Charged for Series of LGTBQ Attacks in Culver City

February 7, 2020

February 7, 2020

Joshua Immanuel Ebow charged for Culver City and West Los Angeles attacks By Sam Catanzaro A former delivery driver has...

Honoring National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at the ONE Archive

February 4, 2020

February 4, 2020

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is on Friday, February 7. In the LGBTQ+ community, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects gay black men...

Q&A: Being Openly Gay at LA Opera

February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

The scene: Eurydice always imagined that her wedding day would be a day she’d never forget. But after a tragic...