Not All LGBT Immigrants Are Married to Americans

The inclusion of gay couples in comprehensive immigration reform legislation has turned into a highly contentious issue. The reality, however, is that there are more lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants than the estimated 32,300 individuals married to American citizens or legal permanent residents.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) reports that there are at least 267,000 undocumented adult immigrants who self-identify as LGBT. These individuals, because of their dual minority status as LGBT and as undocumented, are also among the nation’s most vulnerable, subject to employment, wage, and income disparities. They also face specific challenges when dealing with the immigration system.

The CAP report builds on the findings of the Williams Institute which profiles LGBT adult immigrants in the U.S. According to the institute’s research, in addition to the 2.7 percent of unauthorized adult immigrants who self-identify as LGBT, 2.4 percent of adult documented immigrants or 637,000 say they are LGBT. Gary J. Gates, the Williams Institute’s Distinguished Scholar, stressed at a CAP panel last week that these are conservative estimates and there could easily be more than 904,000 adult LGBT immigrants, both documented and undocumented. He also pointed out that about 11,700 lesbian and gay couples are both non-citizens, 58 percent of whom are raising over 12,000 children.

Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American and undeniably the most high-profile undocumented immigrant in the U.S., also brought attention to queer undocumented youth who may not be counted among the 267,000 undocumented adults. Moreover, he highlighted the fact that many of the founders and leaders of the undocumented youth movement, the DREAMers, are LGBT themselves.

The CAP report argues that “passing an immigration reform bill with a direct road map to earned citizenship would lift these immigrants out of the shadows, treat them with the dignity they deserve, and enable them to become full and equal participants in our society, economy, and democracy.”

LGBT undocumented immigrants live in the shadows, marginalized by society’s bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity and immigration status. Shedding light on their numbers is a start in getting them out of the dark.

Originally posted on the Huffington Post.

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Out of the Shadows: Counting Undocumented LGBT Immigrants

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March 8, 2013; Source: Fox News Latino

The inclusion of gay couples in comprehensive immigration reform legislation has turned into a highly contentious issue. According to a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), there are at least 267,000 undocumented adult immigrants who self-identify as LGBT. These individuals, because of their dual minority status as LGBT and as undocumented, are also among the nation’s most vulnerable, subject to employment, wage, and income disparities. They also face specific challenges when dealing with the immigration system.

The CAP report builds on the findings of a Williams Institute report which profiles LGBT adult immigrants in the U.S. According to the Institute’s research, in addition to the 2.7 percent of unauthorized adult immigrants who self-identify as LGBT, 2.4 percent of adult documented immigrants (or 637,000 documented immigrants) say they are LGBT. At a CAP panel last week, Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates stressed that these are conservative estimates and that there could easily be more than 904,000 adult LGBT immigrants, both documented and undocumented. Gates added that there are approximately 11,700 lesbian and gay couples in which both are non-citizens, and of this group, 58 percent are raising children. That would equate to more than 12,000 children.

Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American and undeniably the most high-profile undocumented immigrant in the U.S., also brought attention to queer undocumented youth who may not be counted among the 267,000 undocumented adults. Moreover, he highlighted the fact that many of the founders and leaders of the undocumented youth movement, otherwise known as the DREAMers, are LGBT themselves.

The CAP report argues that “passing an immigration reform bill with a direct road map to earned citizenship would lift these immigrants out of the shadows, treat them with the dignity they deserve, and enable them to become full and equal participants in our society, economy, and democracy.” LGBT undocumented immigrants live in the shadows, marginalized by society’s biases based on sexual orientation or gender identity and/or immigration status. Shedding light on their numbers is a start in getting them out of the dark. 

Originally posted on Nonprofit Quarterly Nonprofit Newswire.

Reaction to Jose Antonio Vargas in the Filipino Community

Jose Antonio Vargas

Filipino reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. (Photo: Campus Progress)

Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who outed himself as undocumented, has been raised by some as a prime example of the kind of immigrant who should be allowed to stay in the country. He has worked hard, earned proper degrees and won acclaim in his profession. He is an attractive, well-dressed and articulate young man. Had he not revealed his secret, one could swear that he was born here.

But what about the migrant farm or restaurant worker who has little education, speaks nary a word of English and chooses to remain in the shadows so that he might keep toiling, earn a meager wage and barely provide for his wife and American children?

Who is the desirable immigrant? Who should stay and who should go?

This is what unsettles me most about this whole affair, why I expressed ambivalence about Vargas’ actions in a podcast for Feet in 2 Worlds.

Vargas’ coming out and ongoing advocacy has certainly refueled discourse about immigration and what ought to be done with the millions who live and work in America without papers. However, his example perpetuates only one idea of who we should welcome and embrace.

There is no doubt that the country stands to gain by luring the best and the brightest. In order for the United States to maintain its economic standing globally and keep China and India at bay, we need to attract and embrace those with advanced degrees, particularly in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

We must bear in mind however, that in order for the country to keep running we also need those who are willing to harvest our fields, work in construction, watch our children, wash dishes in restaurants, maintain our lawns, clean our offices and serve us fast food. As it is, newly minted state laws are scaring such immigrants away in Georgia and Alabama much to the detriment of the states’ economies and their residents’ well-being.

It is of national interest to have the right labor force mix which includes both highly educated and skilled workers and manual and low-skilled laborers. Although farming has become highly mechanized, there is still a demand for people willing to do back-breaking labor under the hot sun. Although factories are increasingly automated, America still needs hands to manufacture goods, and service and retail industries have grown exponentially.

We cannot be blindsided by our bias for the well-scrubbed and well-spoken. After all, who’s going to keep the offices of award-winning journalists clean?

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, July 14, 2011.