Today the Supreme Court will be hearing three cases on the Trump administration's termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a.k.a. DACA, which gives undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors temporary relief from deportation. The SCOTUS decision will impact over 700,000 people who have been in the U.S. on average two decades, and this number includes over 60,000 LGBTQ folks.
In advance of the hearing, United We Dream worked with Eric from Pride Portraits to photograph LGBTQ DACA recipients and released their stories here.
“At United We Dream, we proudly chant that we are 'undocumented and unafraid, trans, queer, unashamed.' For years, that chant was one of solidarity for my LGBTQ siblings. As I prepare to sit inside the Supreme Court while the justices hear oral arguments about my life, I’m empowered to be able to shout that I myself, indentify as a queer women.
“I’m finally allowing myself to say it and live it – and to do so in a way that is so public feels liberating. I do it for myself, and so that young people are free to be their full authentic selves.
“It’s important to ensure that we’re elivating the voices of LGBTQ undocumented people, because as the case for DACA is being heard, we’re seeing our trans sisters dying at the hands of Trump’s deportation agents. Immigration is an LGBTQ issue.”
“Have you ever got in your car and mid commute realize that you have forgotten your driver’s license? Remember that anxiety you felt? That anxiety is the reality for many in my home state, Virginia. We don’t have driver’s licenses for all regardless of immigration status. But because of my DACA status I am able to drive legally. It is an understatement to say that DACA being repealed is devastating. DACAmented youth around the United States have had the opportunity to pursue higher education.
“DACA has granted me the right to work legally in the United States. I am grateful to be part of an organization, CASA, that has given me the opportunity to attend trainings in different states. I am mindful of the fact that DACA is not complete legal status; but because of DACA I was able to fly somewhat worry-free. Because of DACA, I have the privilege to say that I've lived in the United States 'legally' for ALL of my adulthood.
“DACA is more than just a permission slip to be in the United States, it's a positive life-changer."
"Pride to me means not having to hide any part of myself. Whether it be my queerness, my immigration status, or neurodivergency. It's important to uplift LGBTQ identities of DACA recipients because oftentimes it is queer immigrants receiving the worst of the horrid treatment from the immigration system."
“DACA means so much more than a piece of paper that lets us work to us in the LGBTQ community. DACA means a chance to be free. To be who you truly are and love who you truly love without fear of being killed. LGBTQ DACA recipients in the states have the opportunity to live their true color-filled lives without looking over their shoulder every second of the day in fear.
“Many of us had the chance to truly be us, here in the States. DACA opened even more doors for us, and taking that away would be sending us back to our native countries to our death sentences.”
“Many of us come out as undocumented, or queer, or both, multiple times. My parents didn’t quite believe I was queer when I came out for the first time at 13. When I decided to live my life authentically and began dating my nonbinary partner at 19, I did so knowing that if my parents rejected me, at least I had a job, a car, and a roof over my head thanks to DACA.
“As a queer Texan, DACA has also allowed me to see my partner and his family in their border town home, which is blocked by Border Patrol checkpoints where you are interrogated by agents
“Undocumented people who live here can never leave. You live with what you’ve got, both the good — rich culture, food, history — and the bad — no access to safe abortions, specific medical procedures, and before marriage equality became law of the land, no freedom to marry who you love.
“DACA kept me safe when Border Patrol agents would board the Greyhound bus and ask to see my papers. It kept me safe from agents hovering over my shoulder when I visited the river where my mom carried me over her head to my newfound home 25 years ago.”
"When I came out to my mom, the first thing she told me was that being gay was 'a test from God,' something I would overcome. Her reaction was one of my worst fears come true. For so long, she was someone I saw as my ultimate advocate, as a protector. A lot of the shame and stigma I carried for years about being gay was similar to the shame and stigma I carried about being undocumented. While DACA eventually provided me real relief from the threat of deportation, and the ability to work and travel within the U.S., one of the greatest things it provided me was clarity and understanding.
"Clarity about the need for people directly impacted to share their stories and be fully themselves in every space. Understanding that our liberation as undocumented people, as people of color, and as queer people is interconnected.
"My hope is to live in a world where no one has to justify their existence, where we can all live with dignity and respect. DACA at the Supreme Court is just a blip on the long road to liberation for all LGBTQ people, which includes the trans women who have been left to die in detention centers. The HIV+ people who have been denied medication.
"The LGBTQ people who have been locked in solitary confinement as they seek some sort of absolution from an immigration system which fails to see people for their humanity."
"In 2006, ICE knocked on our door in the dead of night and abducted my dad from our Tampa Bay home. I remember them flashing the lights in my eyes; my mother crying; the confusion and grief as he was criminalized and deported within days.
"With DACA, I have the chance to live with the safety that my dad never got to have. And that’s what this means for so many LGBTQ undocumented folks who are stopped by police or deportation agents every day and criminalized, whether it’s because of the color of their skin, their gender presentation, or 'crimes' (acts) of survival.
"I want to live in a world where no one has to live in fear just walking through their city or resting in their homes."