Special Fund Helps LGBT Dreamers Get Work Permits and Relief from Deportation

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 a fund made possible by over three-dozen LGBT organizations including Pride Foundation.

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 story). The $465 in fees poses a steep hurdle for most DREAMers because they are not able to obtain lawful employment due to their undocumented status.

Pride Foundation supports this fund because LGBTQ youth already face enough barriers,” said Pride Foundation Executive Director Kris Hermanns. “These aspiring citizens deserve our community’s support.”

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.

One of the recipients of aid from the fund, Jose Mendoza (pictured above), 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.

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.

Current contributors to the LGBT Dreamers Fund:
• Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of the Palm Center
• Center on Halsted (Chicago)
• The Center/GLBT Community Center of Colorado
• Cream City Foundation
• The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada
• Centerlink
• Equality Federation
• Equality Maine
• Family Equality Council
• Freedom to Marry
• Gay City Health Project (Seattle)
• Gay Community Center of Richmond
• Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
• Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
• Greater Palm Springs Pride
• GSA Network
• Horizons Foundation
• Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
• Immigration Equality
• Paul Kawata, Executive Director of the National Minority AIDS Council
• L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
• Lambda Legal
• LGBT Center of Central PA
• LGBT Center of Raleigh
• LGBT Project of the ACLU
• Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
• MassEquality
• Mautner Project Board and Staff
• Metropolitan Charities
• National Center for Lesbian Rights
• National Coalition for LGBT Health
• National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
• National Stonewall Democrats
• The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)
• One Colorado
• Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
• The OUTreach Center (Madison, WI)
• Pride Foundation
• Pridelines Youth Services (Miami Shores, FL)
• Q Center (Portland, OR)
• Rainbow Community Center (Contra Costa, CA)
• Ruth Ellis Center, Inc. (Detroit)
• San Diego LGBT Community Center
• Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
• Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
• San Francisco LGBT Community Center
• Transgender Law Center
• The Trevor Project
• True Colors
• Several Anonymous Donors

Read more about the LGBT DREAMers helped so far.

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