The federal government enters its fourth week of shutdown (or, as it is more diplomatically put, “lapse in appropriations”) because of what Donald Trump calls a humanitarian crisis at the border. Such importance is placed on this crisis that we have 80, 000 federal workers staring at yet another week without pay. So… what crisis is there, exactly?
It turns out, Trump is correct. There are actual crises to attend to at the border. Children torn from their parents; victims of gang violence fleeing for protection turned away; families dismantled. All of these issues deserve to be highlighted and underlined; but instead, their stories are becoming an afterthought to the standstill at the nation’s capital.
In particular, asylum seekers who are members of the LGBTQ+ community are being drowned out by the noise being made by a grown man asking for money to build a wall. Their voices, now more than ever, deserve to be heard.
In December of 2018, the Trump administration furthered its attempts at dismantling the asylum system by announcing its new policy. Labeled “Migration Protection Protocols,” this “catch and return” policy requires people seeking asylum at the southwest border (a total of 48 legal points of entry) to wait in Mexico while immigration courts in the US decide on their asylum cases.
This is especially perilous for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers as the policy puts their lives at risk while in Mexico. Not only is Mexico ranked currently as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, but it is also notorious for its widespread homophobia and transphobia. The LGBTQ+ communities in Mexico tackle discrimination not just from the police, but for ordinary citizens themselves. In essence, the Trump administration is placing the LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the same conditions that they were fleeing from, to begin with. Most of them are unlikely to survive the wait in Mexico, as the backlog of asylum cases in the United States continue to balloon.
The reality that LGBTQ+ immigrants, especially those seeking asylum, is multi-layered in its desperation, as they face persecution from all sides. The LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in the migrant caravan, for example, had banded together for protection against other (non-LGBTQ+) asylum seekers who discriminate against the community.
To force them to wait for their day in court in Mexico, instead of finding shelter in LGBTQ+-friendly cities like New York or San Francisco, is yet another way for the administration to tear apart the long-standing tradition of the United States’ providing refuge to the oppressed, as well as basically handing them a death sentence.
We at Bretz & Coven, LLP, are allies and zealous advocates for diversity and equality. We represent members of the LGBTQ+ community in immigration cases and proceedings. Even with this gloomy regression in the immigration policy courtesy of the Trump administration, there is some light and hope, as many LGBTQ+ asylum seekers not only make it to “friendly” sanctuary cities, but ultimately win their cases. Contact us for more information.