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Luis Gonzalez Works
2004-12-01

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The Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in partnership with Banco Popular and the Chicago Historical Society present ATMOSFERA de la FLORA: LANDSCAPES of PUERTO RICO, paintings by Luis Gonzalez, now through Jan. 9 at the Chicago Historical Society, Clark Street and North Avenue. Call ( 312 ) 642-4600.

Gay Mexican Immigrant Seeks to Stay

Lambda Legal is urging a federal appeals court to grant asylum to a man who faced severe antigay persecution in his native Mexico but was rejected for asylum by an immigration judge who said he didn't seem gay and could hide his sexual orientation to avoid persecution.

Lambda Legal represents Jorge Soto Vega, a 35-year-old man from Tuxpan, Mexico, who faced severe harassment and violence from the community and his family from an early age. He was detained and beaten severely by police who threatened to kill him if they saw him again because they wanted to get rid of gay people. Last year, a Southern California immigration judge ruled that there was credible evidence that Soto Vega was persecuted in Mexico because of his sexual orientation, but rejected his application for asylum in the U.S., saying Soto Vega didn't appear gay to him and could keep his sexual orientation hidden if he chose to.

Lambda Legal, which supported Soto Vega's unsuccessful effort to reverse that ruling at the Board of Immigration Appeals last year, is now representing Soto Vega in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. The 56-page brief Lambda Legal filed asks the federal appeals court to reverse the immigration judge's ruling and order federal officials to process Soto Vega's asylum application.

'People are granted asylum in the U.S. because they face persecution in their home countries based on religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender and other factors that are part of their basic identity. We grant people asylum in America because their countries have told them they have to change who they are in order to be safe,' said Jon Davidson, senior counsel for Lambda Legal in its Western Regional Office and the lead attorney on the case. 'The basic premise of asylum is in question when an immigration judge recognizes that a man is being persecuted and sends him back to the country telling him to disguise the very characteristic that leads to persecution and makes him eligible for asylum. The immigration judge's ruling is deeply disturbing and misguided, and we intend to secure asylum for Jorge Soto Vega.'


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