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NCLR Files Brief Highlighting Stories of LGBTQ Asylum Seekers
2018-12-07

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SAN FRANCISCO—The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) yesterday filed an amicus brief highlighting the stories of LGBTQ asylum seekers in a case challenging the Trump Administration's "asylum ban" — the rule and presidential proclamation barring asylum for individuals who enter the United States across the southern border outside of a port of entry.

The Trump administration's policies foreclose a path to asylum for many LGBTQ refugees, who cannot safely remain in Mexico while they wait to present their asylum claims. The brief notes that asylum seekers turned away from points of entry have been attacked, raped, kidnapped, and trafficked by cartel members. This threat to refugees is even more grave for LGBTQ asylum seekers, as violence against the LGBTQ community in Mexico has increased in recent years, particularly for transgender women and gender nonconforming people.

For example, in May 2018, a group of six armed men attacked, robbed, and set the shelter on fire where 11 LGBTQ asylum seekers were staying. Several hours later, these attackers returned, shouting homophobic slurs at and threatening to kill the LGBTQ asylum seekers if they did not leave.

"The Trump administration is attempting to unlawfully and fundamentally change our country's process and protections for refugees literally fleeing for their lives," said NCLR Immigration Project's Margarita Sanchez Morales. "NCLR has helped hundreds of LGBTQ community members find safety and security in the U.S. after being subjected to severe physical and sexual violence in their home countries because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Lives are at stake. Asylum is not only a critical LGBTQ issue, it is an essential part of our nation's character."

In Guatemala, police regularly extort LGBTQ individuals—waiting outside of clubs or bars and demanding money or threatening them with jail. In Honduras, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that the killing of LGBTQ people tends to go unpunished by the police—due to stereotypes and discrimination. At least 264 LGBTQ people have been killed in Honduras since 2009. Amnesty International reported that LGBTQ people in the Northern Triangle rarely obtain justice which "perpetuates the circle of violence to which [they] are subjected and increases their lack of protection"; the "Northern Triangle" is comprised of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

NCLR's brief was also joined by Centro Legal de la Raza, El/La Para Translatinas, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., and Transgender Law Center.

NCLR's Immigration Project has provided free legal assistance since 1994 to thousands of LGBTQ immigrants nationwide through, among other services, direct representation in impact cases and individual asylum cases, as well as advocacy for immigration and asylum policy reform.

Click www.nclrights.org/cases-and-policy/cases-and-advocacy/east-bay-sanctuary-covenant-et-al-v-trump-et-al/ to access the filed copy of this brief.

—From a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) was the first national LGBTQ legal organization founded by women and brings a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and our community's most vulnerable. Since 1977, we have been at the forefront of advancing the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people and their families through impact litigation, public policy, and public education. Decades ago, NCLR launched the first LGBTQ Immigration Project, Transgender Rights Project, Youth Project, Elder Law Project, and began working to end conversion therapy through what is now our Born Perfect campaign. www.nclrights.org .


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