Lambda Legal: Arizona Law Hurts Us All

BY Advocate Contributors

May 05 2010 2:00 PM ET

As LGBT people, we are all too familiar with unjust laws, discriminatory law enforcement, and a hostile legal system. Our country’s immigration system remains plagued with these problems, and Arizona’s shameful new immigration law compounds them in the worst possible ways.

Undocumented LGBT immigrants are among the most invisible of the invisible. Many inhabit a double closet, afraid of disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and afraid of disclosing that they are undocumented. Many have fled countries where their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status has put their lives at risk. Yet our current laws do not guarantee them fair access to asylum here. What is more, immigrants in detention often are held in remote jails with little to no access to their families or to attorneys who can help them and where they are all the more vulnerable to antigay abuse and violence. Some also have been denied needed health care, which can be particularly dangerous to detainees living with HIV and to transgender detainees dependent on hormone therapy.

There is another tragedy that uniquely affects lesbian and gay people: The families of at least 36,000 same-sex couples have been torn apart as a result of a discriminatory immigration policy. Currently, all binational same-sex couples (including those who are legally married) are denied the ability afforded heterosexual U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor a foreign-born spouse to immigrate lawfully to our country. 



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