“Taken as a whole, unauthorised immigrants who qualify for the deferred action initiative are commonly referred to as “DREAMers” because they comprise most (though not all) of the individuals who meet the general requirements of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.” – American Immigration Council
When President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced their plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in September 2017, the program found itself in the midst of budget showdowns. The final decision for what will happen with DACA is still not known, but in early April, Trump declared DACA “dead” through a tweet.
The DACA issue has evoked emotions and strong debate from both Democrats and Republicans, but one issue has gone relatively unnoticed – the LGBTQ DACA recipients.
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that there are over 75,000 LGBTQ DREAMers in the United States. Of those, they say over 36,000 have participated in DACA, with 24,000 who have renewed in the program.
That is a group of people who, on top of being scrutinised and persecuted for simply trying to live a good life, fear being deported even more than their fellow DREAMers.
According to the Pew Research Center, the top four countries of origin for DACA recipients are Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
In Mexico, progress has been made. Pew found that 61 per cent of Mexicans accept homosexuality in society, though same-sex marriages are not recognised at the federal level.
Same-sex marriages are not legal in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras, with the latter going so far as to impose a constitutional ban on them. More important to consider is the reason many people flee from these countries in the first place – gang violence. Living in areas controlled by gangs is violent enough for most people, but consider that all gangs explicitly forbid homosexuality in their codes. LGBTQ+ people in these countries risk their lives by coming out and being who they are.
Federal courts have issued three separate rulings preventing Trump from carrying out his attempt to end DACA, but with a GOP controlled Congress, there is no end in sight for an immigration deal. With Trump and the GOP attempting to tie funding for a border wall into any proposed agreement, the Democrats are forced to make the case for human life to an anxious public.
DREAMers live in constant fear of what will happen to them. They have become part of American society. Many know only English and most have never been back to their country of origin.
The fear faced by LGBTQ+ DREAMers is even worse. Right now, they live in a country where same-sex marriage is legal. They see LGBTQ+ people on television and movies. They don’t have to worry about wearing a pride t-shirt when they go out for the day because, even though there is still work to be done in this country as far as acceptance is concerned, the United States offers more comfort for their lifestyle that they will find if they are deported.
The LGBTQ+ community needs to rally around to find a permanent solution for DACA – it affects our community. We can’t let intolerance happen to the DREAMers. They deserve better.