Lambda Legal: Obama Order Needs a Plan for LGBT Immigrants

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November 20, 2014
Francisco Dueñas, Lambda Legal's Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Proyecto Igualdad
President Obama today announced he is issuing an executive order taking action on immigration, including temporarily protecting about 5 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation.
However, 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.
While we praise President Obama’s efforts to do what is in his executive power to improve immigration, we are deeply disappointed that his 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This effort by the President does not absolve Congress of its responsibility to provide a permanent fix to our outdated immigration system so that it is fair to  all the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US today, waiting to be fully American.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.
Read the press release.