WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s announcement Thursday that he is issuing an executive order to take action on immigration, including temporarily protecting about 5 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation, was met with a lukewarm reception from LGBT rights groups.
The order provides the administrative relief only for those immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, potentially excluding a disproportionate number of undocumented LGBT immigrants who do not have children.
Francisco Dueñas, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Proyecto Igualdad at Lambda Legal, said Obama’s plan “plan unfairly excludes many members of the LGBT community.”
“President Obama’s plan allows immigrants who have children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents to obtain legal work documents and temporarily be protected from deportation. We urge President Obama to undertake reforms that are more LGBT-inclusive, such as recognizing length of residency as a stand-alone qualification.
“Thousands of LGBT immigrants, many who have fled countries where LGBT people are unprotected and subjected to horrific abuse and violence, have been waiting for humane immigration reform for years due to Congressional inaction and cannot afford to wait any longer. This effort by the President does not absolve Congress of its responsibility to provide a permanent fix to our outdated immigration system so that it is fair to all the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US today, waiting to be fully American.
“So while we commend this order for providing much-needed immediate relief to many undocumented immigrants, we note that requiring individuals to have children disproportionately excludes LGBT immigrants who are childless because the barriers to creating a family are higher for people who cannot afford assisted reproduction or are disqualified from adoption by antigay laws. We need a plan that recognizes community ties and longtime residency.”
In a separate statement, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Policy Director Maya Rupert said that while she welcomed Obama’s order as a “first step” towards ending the a “broken and discriminatory” immigration system, more can be done to ensure the system is “inclusive and humane for all.”
“We remain deeply concerned that the plan leaves out too many LGBT immigrant families. LGBT families are less likely to have legally recognized or biological relationships with each other, and thus relief based wholly on familial ties will exclude too many LGBT families. In addition, many of the restrictions requiring consistent employment and limiting access for people with non-violent criminal histories will disproportionately impact LGBT immigrants, especially in the transgender community.”