Special Fund Helps LGBT Dreamers Get Work Permits and Relief from Deportation
from the threat of deportation, thanks to a fund made possible by over three-dozen LGBT organizations. GLAD is proud to be a part of this effort. Late last summer, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to enable people who came to the United States as children—commonly known as “Dreamers”—to apply for work permits and relief from deportation.
In response, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund launched the “LGBT Dreamers Fund” at the Liberty Hill Foundation to help LGBT Dreamers pay the $465 in fees required to apply for relief under the DACA program (a list of organizations contributing to the fund appears at the end of this release). The $465 in fees poses a steep hurdle for most Dreamers because neither they nor their parents are able to obtain lawful employment due to their undocumented status.
“These young people are part of the LGBT community and we knew we had to find a way to give them a hand,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, one of the fund’s co-founders. “We are thrilled that so many LGBT organizations across the nation stepped forward.”
“GLAD is committed to creating a world in which all LGBT youth have the opportunity to live out their dreams,” said Lee Swislow, GLAD’s Executive Director. “We were happy to be able to support the hard work and dedication of these young people by contributing to the Dreamers Fund.”
One of the recipients of aid from the fund, Jose Mendoza, recently received his work permit. Jose’s dream is to become a nurse and he is now taking classes that will allow him to apply to a nursing program. “Getting this kind of support and help means so much, and it’s great to see the gay community stepping in and saying that what I am doing is important,” he said.
Marco Quiroga, who wants to be a surgeon, said he was “thrilled” to have the support of the LGBT Dreamers Fund so that he could submit his DACA application. “Immigrant and LGBT issues have always been separate in my mind, and it is wonderful to see these two communities come together to work on a common cause,” he said. “Receiving these funds creates a sense of community with other gay immigrants who are in my situation.”
There is widespread agreement that the DACA program is only a temporary fix and that creating a direct pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is one of the key elements of comprehensive immigration reform. The framework for reform recently announced by President Obama as well as the one put forward by the bipartisan “Gang of 8” in the U.S. Senate specifically included Dreamers. On February 5, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who helped sink the federal DREAM Act in 2010, also endorsed citizenship for Dreamers.
To date, more than $100,000 has been raised and 160 LGBT Dreamers have received financial assistance from the LGBT Dreamers Fund. At least another 40 will get help from the fund. LGBT Dreamers who would like assistance may apply at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund.
Jose Mendoza’s and Marco Quiroga’s stories, and those of other recipients of the LGBT Dreamers Fund is available at www.LGBTDreamersStories.com.