Nearly 200 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) undocumented young people have either received or are in the process of receiving two-year work permits and reprieves from the threat of deportation, thanks to the LGBT Dreamers Fund, a fund made possible by over three-dozen LGBT organizations including Pride Foundation.
“In spite of having to deal with the stresses of being both undocumented and LGBT, these young people have persevered and emerged as leaders of the national reform movement,” said LA Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean, another fund co-founder. “All of us are so pleased to be able to show our support and gratitude to them.”
The following are the stories of three Dreamers who received assistance from the fund, including Jose Mendoza and Marco Quiroga. More about these individuals and some of the other recipients of the LGBT Dreamers Fund is available at www.LGBTDreamersStories.com.
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.”
Alejandra Estrada hasn’t known any other home than the United States. She was just 3 months old in 1989 when her mother brought her and her sister across the U.S.-Mexico border. She excelled in school, and after high school graduation she began cleaning houses with her mother, with the two recently starting a small house-cleaning business in Las Vegas.
Alejandra, who also received a grant through the fund, submitted her DACA application and is hopeful it is approved so she can achieve her dreams of attending college and majoring in early childhood education.
“A change of status could really change everything,” said Alejandra, adding that her immigration status has limited her abilities, not only to excel professionally, but to grow. “Even though I have been here since I was a baby, there’s still this feeling that I don’t belong. Becoming a citizen and getting everything squared away will be an incredible relief.”
Jaime Diaz, who also received a grant through the fund, recently got the news he had hoped for—he was granted a work permit under DACA. It was at that moment that he realized the dreams he’s had since his parents brought him to this country as a young boy could indeed come true, and he could one day become an elementary school teacher.
“Everything is starting to fall into place,” Jaime said. “Getting my work permit and Social Security card and other documents was like getting a whole load lifted off my shoulders. I feel more free because of DACA and I am no longer scared of the police or of being treated like a criminal.”
To date, more than $100,000 has been raised and 160 LGBT Dreamers have received financial assistance. At least another 40 will get help from the fund. LGBT Dreamers who would like assistance from the fund may apply at www.LibertyHill.org/LGBTDreamersFund.