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The dehumanizing DACA standstill

Politics without reason

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Navid Dayzad is an immigration attorney who can be reached through his website: dayzadlaw.com. (Photo Courtesy Dayzad)

Millions of undocumented individuals currently live in the United States who struggle to live, work and provide for their families. Among these individuals are young people brought to the U.S. as children. These folks struggle to find their place in a country that has demonstrated a growing fear and distrust of immigrants. For young LGBT immigrants, this struggle only amplifies the issues they already face as an often-marginalized group dealing with their own sexuality, identity and gender.

Yet, as the immigration debate rages on—now for over a decade—these young people find themselves as a political bargaining chip, leaving them feeling fearful of the future and their place in society.

Due to a lack of bipartisan congressional support behind the DREAM Act, President Obama issued an executive order as a last resort in June of 2012, creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

DACA has provided nearly 700,000 individuals with work authorization and protected them against deportation. Immigration attorneys have long warned of the risks involved with DACA because the president rather than Congress created it. Yes, it provided young people with opportunities they would not have otherwise had, but with no guarantee that it would last or that a less immigrant-friendly president would not use the information DACA recipients willingly provided against them.

We now find ourselves in the DACA worst-case scenario: with a president who calls the home countries of these immigrants “shitholes” and ending DACA during his first year in office. Upon ending the program in 2017, the president kicked the can to Congress to create a permanent solution for DACA recipients. However, this request remains a tall order for a do-nothing Congress split on its approach to immigration. The battle wages on, but stuck in the middle are the people whose livelihoods and security are uncertain. LGBT DACA recipients feel this uncertainty even more acutely.

The Williams Institute estimates that approximately 36,000 DACA recipients identify as LGBT and thousands more LGBT young people are eligible, but have not enrolled. In general, LGBTQ people of color are more likely to live in poverty as compared with their non-LGBT peers. DACA provided these individuals with the opportunity to become financially independent. The DACA program dramatically increased employment rates among LGBT young people, and allowed them to obtain higher paying jobs with health insurance. It also increased the number of people who sought higher education, overall lifting many undocumented LGBT individuals out of poverty.

Beyond the loss of these financial and academic opportunities, LGBT recipients will also lose protection from deportation. Consequently, their lives would change from openly living, working and studying in their communities, to moving back to the shadows to avoid deportation.

Deportation can be especially dangerous for LGBT individuals. The removal process alone can be harmful to LGBT individuals, as they are disproportionately victims of sexual assault and harassment in detention centers. Further, these LGBT individuals might be sent back to one of the 72 countries where same-sex sexual acts are criminalized, or eight countries where it is punishable by death. Even in relatively progressive countries that have anti-discrimination protections on the books, authorities do not always enforce the laws consistently, and violence remains a threat. A far greater number of countries do not provide the basic right of marriage equality either.

Sadly, the worst fears of many have come to fruition with the DACA program ending on March 5, 2018. The decision to end the program has faced court challenges, and advocates have had some success. As of this writing, both parties want a resolution for DACA recipients, but cannot agree on a deal. Conservatives seem amenable to an agreement, but also seek funding for a border wall and severe limitations to legal family-based immigration in exchange. Meanwhile, progressives refuse to tie a deal for DACA recipients to the border wall and other immigration proposals that would have dramatic effects on the immigrant community at large – many of whom are the parents of DACA recipients. Thus, the debate remains at a disappointing standstill.

While all DACA recipients face challenges ahead, the future for LGBT DACA recipients is even more troubling. Not only will they lose the economic opportunities they have worked so hard for, but they also have the added fear of being forced to return to a country they have never known, which would be unaccepting of them, or worse. Without a permanent resolution, these young people face dire consequences for decisions adults made on their behalf in bringing them to the U.S. in the first place.

We must continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform and for protections for these individuals. They are our community members, coworkers, activists, and friends, and to turn our backs on them now would demonstrate a tragic lack of humanity.

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Politics

Head of Anti-LGBTQ group worked with Trump to overturn election

Eastman and the former president had a secret scheme to try to get former Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn election

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NOM Head John Eastman with Rudy Giuliani on January 6, 2021 (Screenshot via YouTube)

By David Badash | PROVINCETOWN, Ma. – The head of a once well-known anti-LGBTQ organization that spent countless millions in dark money to try to block the advancement of same-sex marriage worked with then-President Donald Trump and his legal team on a secret scheme to try to get Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

John Eastman, who until January 13 was a tenured professor of law and dean at the Chapman University School of Law in California, advanced a six-point plan detailing the steps he wanted Pence to take on January 6.

Eastman, who is the chairman of NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, “tried to convince then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6 when Congress counted the Electoral College votes by throwing out electors from seven states, according to the new book ‘Peril’ from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa,” CNN reports.

“You really need to listen to John. He’s a respected constitutional scholar. Hear him out,” Trump told Pence during a January 4 meeting with Eastman in the Oval Office, according to “Peril.”

In addition to directing that Pence would falsely claim that the seven states had competing electors, Eastman suggested Pence make all these moves without warning.

“The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind.”

Pence disagreed with Eastman’s legal claims and did not enact the secret scheme.

Eastman spoke at the January 6 “Save America” rally that many claim Trump used to incite the insurrection.

One week later he “abruptly” resigned from Chapman University “amid criticism of his role in stoking the violent attack,” and “calls for his firing,” Law.com reported at the time.

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David Badash (@davidbadash) is the founder and editor of The New Civil Rights Movement, an award-winning news & opinion site.

The preceding article was first published by The New Civil Rights Movement and is republished by permission.

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Politics

The White House marks the 10th anniversary of the repeal of DADT

“A great injustice was remedied & a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of American service members”

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President Obama signs the certification stating the statutory requirements for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have been met 9-20-2011 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON – President Biden recognized in a statement on Monday the tenth anniversary of the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that once discharged service members from the military for being openly gay or bisexual.

“Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members,” Biden said. “The repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”

Biden recognized high-profile openly gay appointees in his administrations who are also veterans, naming Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Biden also names Shawn Skelly, assistant secretary of defense for readiness, who would have been discharged from the military under President Trump’s transgender military ban.

“On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation,” Biden said. “We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.”

Technically speaking, the anniversary of Obama signing repeal legislation was in December. Today is the anniversary of defense officials certifying the military is ready, which put an end to the policy.

Statement by President Joe Biden on the Tenth Anniversary of the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Ten years ago today, a great injustice was remedied and a tremendous weight was finally lifted off the shoulders of tens of thousands of dedicated American service members. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
 
Despite serving with extraordinary honor and courage throughout our history, more than 100,000 American service members have been discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity—including some 14,000 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many of these veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, excluding them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn.
 
As a U.S. Senator, I supported allowing service members to serve openly, and as Vice President, I was proud to champion the repeal of this policy and to stand beside President Obama as he signed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law. As President, I am honored to be Commander-in-Chief of the strongest and most inclusive military in our nation’s history. Today, our military doesn’t just welcome LGBTQ+ service members—it is led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was gratified to appoint the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and Afghanistan veteran who joined the military under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. And during my first week in office, I proudly delivered on my pledge to repeal the discriminatory ban on open service by patriotic transgender service members.
 
On this day and every day, I am thankful for all of the LGBTQ+ service members and veterans who strengthen our military and our nation. We must honor their sacrifice by continuing the fight for full equality for LGBTQ+ people, including by finally passing the Equality Act and living up to our highest values of justice and equality for all.

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California Politics

NBC News exit survey: 83% of LGBTQ Californian voters said no to recall

As Governor, Newsom has signed a litany of pro-LGBTQ legislation expanding the civil/equality rights of the Golden State’s LGBTQ+ community

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Graphic courtesy of NBC News

NEW YORK – In an exit poll conducted by NBC News on Tuesday, voters who identified as LGBTQ+ by a majority of 83 percent voted “no’ in the gubernatorial recall, versus 17 percent who voted “yes.”

Newsom has had a long track record as an LGBTQ+ ally, while mayor of the City of San Francisco in 2004 he sparked a political firestorm when he defied state law and issued approximately 4,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Many people in the California Democratic Party were certain Newsom had effectively ended any chance to advance his political career with his actions, ironically though he instead garnered wide-spread support, especially from a statewide LGBTQ+ constituency which landed him in the Lieutenant Governor’s chair.

In 2015, then Lt. Governor Newsom saw vindication as the U. S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, ruling that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Since taking office in 2019 as Governor of California, Newsom has signed a litany of pro-LGBTQ legislation which has expanded the civil and equality rights of the Golden State’s LGBTQ+ community.

In a statement emailed Thursday morning, California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, reflecting on the results of the NBC News poll, told the Blade; “It’s no secret that Governor Newsom has been an ally to the LGBTQ community for decades. From signing countless bills enacting new protections, to his leadership through the COVID crisis that centered the needs of the most vulnerable, he has shown up for California’s LGBTQ community.”

Had Newsom been removed as governor, 77 percent of LGBTQ recall voters said they would be concerned or scared, compared to 57 percent of all recall voters. Twenty-one percent of LGBTQ voters said they would be excited or optimistic if he were removed, compared to 38 percent of all recall voters, according to NBC News’ Exit Poll.

“The numbers are clear on just how overwhelmingly opposed the LGBTQ+ community was to this Republican power grab,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), who serves as Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus in an email to the Blade. “Governor Gavin Newsom has been a steadfast ally of ours for decades, and I’m proud to see our community make its voice clearly heard as we build on the progress California has made regarding equality and inclusion.”

Rick Zbur, the Executive Director of Equality California noted: “We stood with Governor Newsom because he has always stood with us — no matter the personal or political consequences. He has signed groundbreaking legislation to support the health and well-being of transgender Californians; expanded access to life-saving HIV prevention medications; enacted new gun safety measures and police reforms; created more housing for people experiencing homelessness than any governor in history — and put a stop to California’s racist, anti-LGBTQ+ death penalty. He is working every day against difficult odds to keep our families safe, protect families from eviction and provide billions of dollars in relief to working families and small businesses.”

NBC News’ Exit Poll revealed that a significant percentage of LGBTQ recall voters think getting the coronavirus vaccine is a public health responsibility, at 82 percent, compared to 65 percent of all recall voters. Of LGBTQ voters, 17 percent believe getting the vaccine is a personal choice, compared to 32 percent of all recall voters.

The poll also found that 48 percent of LGBTQ voters, (roughly half) think the policies Newsom put in place to deal with the pandemic have been about right, 35 percent don’t think they’ve been strict enough, and 17 percent think they’ve been too strict. On the governor’s statewide in-person school masking mandate, 86 percent, are in support while 13 percent oppose it.

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