With the news of President Obama’s new “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) Pride Foundation joined other social justice philanthropists and leaders to create the LGBT Dreamers Fund. The Fund provided $75,000 in financial aid for application fees associative with DACA. DACA allows young people who were brought to the country as children to apply for relief from deportation and for two-year renewable work permits. The response of applicants to the fund was overwhelming that the fund is no longer taking applications as a result.
Guest Blogger Christian Baeff is the LGBT Alliance Building Coordinator at Causa, Oregon’s Statewide Immigrant Rights Organization. Christian was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moved to the United States 11 years ago. This month, Christian shares with us what the DREAM Act and other immigration policy can mean for LGBTQ immigrants and what the American Dream means to him.
We all face struggles in our lives. Some people face more obstacles than others, which makes achieving the “American Dream,” a nearly impossible goal to obtain. We often hear that we are all equal but the harsh reality is that we’re not always treated or served equally. At Causa, a leading immigrant rights organization here in Oregon, we know equality won’t come without strength, determination, and collective effort. That’s why working together with all members of our community who face challenges every day is so important to us, particularly focusing on LGBTQ Latino/a immigrants who often face unique barriers and challenges.
Few came by plane, most of them through the south border, brought by their families at a young age. The river and the desert have witnessed the long flow of individuals, all members of one kind: the human race. They carry a dream, for them, for their families, a dream for a better life. In the quest to fulfill their dream, they set their heart and minds north and risk their lives traveling on the roof of the “La Bestia” (the beast), the dangerous and indifferent train, crossing the treacherous river, or the cruel Arizona dessert. It is not an easy way of getting to the other side; it is not easy staying.
Growing up in a new country, a new culture, and with a new language is difficult; these difficulties are even more realized when human beings are denied access to healthcare, a driver’s license, an opportunity to further their education, or simply work because they lack documents deemed necessary. The rough road started early in life for many immigrants with many more bumps along the way on the road called life. At Causa we’ve found that numerous Latino/a immigrants also identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and are often times duly discriminated against. Additionally, sometimes they are even rejected by their own families.
We all hope to someday meet the love of our lives, get married, have our own family, and maybe even raise children. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, thus preventing LGBTQ community members from getting married and enjoying many benefits from that union. For LGBTQ immigrants this also creates an additional barrier: denying them a petition for legal status for their loved one. This is just one more additional barrier LGBTQ immigrants face.
President Obama understands the unique and varying pressures faced by LGBTQ immigrants and has passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which will grant some access to immigrant working rights, should applicants meet certain requirements. This is not a path to residency or even full equality, but it is one more step toward the future, which keeps us moving toward full equality. This mission of full equality isn’t one reached by a single organization. Causa is committed to LGBTQ equality as much as it is committed to advancing the lives of undocumented citizens. The fulfillment of both missions similar and have in common the desire to live as fully realized human beings. It is crucial for different communities to look at what they have in common and to help each other with their struggles. This way, someday, the “American Dream” will come true for all of us.
Christian is the LGBT Alliance Building Coordinator at Causa. For more information, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.