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Gay ‘Dreamer’ stuck in Mexico after green card application denied

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Israel Serrato holds a picture of him and his husband, Marco Villada Garibay. The two men have filed a federal lawsuit after Villada was prevented from returning to the U.S. from Mexico after he traveled to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez to apply for a green card. (Photo courtesy of National Immigration Law Center)

Lawyers representing a gay married “Dreamer” who was denied a green card have filed a federal lawsuit that seeks his return to the U.S.

The lawsuit — which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday — notes Marco Villada Garibay came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 6 years old. The lawsuit states Villada graduated from Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif., and later enrolled at El Camino Community College and Harbor College in Los Angeles.

“Mr. Villada Garibay has spent virtually his entire life in the United States,” reads the lawsuit.

Villada in 2013 became a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. and obtain work permits. Villada in 2014 married Israel Serrato after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissed an appeal of a ruling against California’s Proposition 8.

The lawsuit states the couple subsequently filed “the necessary petition and obtained a provisional waiver” from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service that would allow Villada to obtain his green card “by virtue of his marriage to a U.S. citizen.” The couple on Jan. 14 traveled to Mexico in order “to take the next step in (Villada)’s process to obtain U.S. residency,” which was his appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez.

Villada had been able to legally work in the U.S. and was protected from deportation under DACA until 2019, but the lawsuit notes his “status was automatically terminated” once he left the country.

The lawsuit notes Villada traveled to Mexico “only because” the USCIS approved the provisional waiver that allowed him to apply for a green card through the State Department in his country of origin and promptly return to the U.S. with Serrato.

The consulate on Jan. 17 denied Villada’s application and banned him from returning to the U.S. “because it found that he was permanently inadmissible” on the grounds that he left the U.S. more than a year after he entered the country without documents and returned to the U.S. “without admission after more than one year of unlawful presence.”

The lawsuit notes Villada in 2000 returned to Mexico for “a few weeks” after his grandfather died. Villada, who was 17-years-old at the time, was allowed back into the U.S. after he showed his high school ID card to an immigration officer at the San Ysidro border crossing south of San Diego.

The lawsuit states Villada disclosed during his green card interview that he had traveled to Mexico in 2000. The consulate earlier this month affirmed its decision to deny Villada’s application.

“Mr. Villada Garibay and Mr. Serrato continue to be separated because Mr. Villada Garibay is unable to return to the United States,” reads the lawsuit. “As a result, they are suffering emotionally and financially, and are experiencing great anxiety because Mr. Villada Garibay is unable to return to the United States for at least 10 years. The threat of prolonged separation impairs Mr. Villada Garibay’s and Mr. Serrato’s ability to live together as a married couple, form a family and plan for the future.”

The National Immigration Law Center, an immigration advocacy group that is representing Villada and Serrato in their lawsuit, on Tuesday held a conference call with reporters.

Villada said he and Serrato “did everything by the books.”

“Right now all I can think about is going back home,” said Villada. “I miss my husband, my home, family.”

Villada told the Washington Blade he traveled to Mexico’s Jalisco state from Ciudad Juárez after his husband returned to California. Villada said in response to a question about whether he feels safe as an openly gay man that he is “in constant fear of even going down the street for a soda.”

“I’m still living in fear, even right now,” he told the Blade. “It is not a place that is safe, even in my eyes.”

Serrato told reporters he met Villada before he became a DACA recipient.

“I loved my husband before he had DACA,” said Serrato. “I love my husband as a documented person. I’m going to fight for my husband and I to be together.”

The lawsuit names Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan, the USCIS, USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna, USCIS National Benefits Center Director Robert Cowan and U.S. Consul General for Ciudad Juárez Daria L. Darnell as defendants in their official capacities.

The State Department on Tuesday declined to comment on the lawsuit.

‘Immigrant rights are an LGBTQ issue’

The lawsuit was filed against the backdrop of mounting concern over the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

DACA’s future remains uncertain after President Trump last September announced it would end the program. The Trump administration’s announcement in January that Salvadorans will no longer receive protected immigration status in the U.S. through the Temporary Protected Status program sparked further outrage.

“Our anti-LGBT immigration policy just doesn’t hurt immigrants,” National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié told reporters during the conference call. “It hurts all of us.”

Immigrants rights advocates gather in front of the White House on Jan. 8, 2018, to protest President Trump’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status program for Salvadorans. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Stacy Tolchin — one of the attorneys who is representing Villada and Serrato — said there were cases of immigrants during the Obama administration who were denied green cards, even though they had received provisional waivers from USCIS that allowed them to leave the U.S. in order to apply for them in their countries of origin. Crissel Rodríguez of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance told reporters that Villada’s case “is an example of how the Trump administration’s policy continues to tear families apart.”

“Immigrant rights are an LGBTQ issue,” added Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

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South America

Brazil presidential election heads to runoff between Bolsonaro and Lula

Neither candidate received 50 percent of vote on Sunday

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From left, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Photo of Bolsonaro by Celso Pupo/Bigstock; photo of Lula courtesy Lula campaign)

Editor’s note: International News Editor Michael K. Lavers will be on assignment in Brazil through Oct. 11.

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will face off in the second round of the country’s presidential election on Oct. 30 after neither of them received a majority of votes on Sunday.

Da Silva was ahead of Bolsonaro by a 47.9-43.6 percent margin with 97.5 percent of electronic voting machines counted, according to Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain who is a member of the right-wing Liberal Party, represented Rio de Janeiro in the Brazilian Congress from 1991 until he took office in 2018. 

Polls ahead of Sunday’s election suggested Da Silva was poised to defeat Bolsonaro in the first round. Bolsonaro’s efforts to discredit Brazil’s electoral system increased concerns that violence could erupt in the country if Bolsonaro did not accept the results. 

The incumbent president has faced sharp criticism because of his rhetoric against LGBTQ+ and intersex Brazilians, women, people of African and indigenous descent and other groups.

He has encouraged fathers to beat their sons if they think they are gay.

Bolsonaro during a 2019 press conference in the White House Rose Garden stressed his “respect of traditional family values.” Bolsonaro has expressed his opposition to “gender ideology,” supports legislation that would limit LGBTQ+-specific curricula in Brazil’s schools and condemned a 2019 Brazilian Supreme Court ruling that criminalized homophobia and transphobia.

A Brazilian Federal Police investigator in August called for prosecutors to charge Bolsonaro with incitement for spreading false information about COVID-19 after he said people who are vaccinated against the virus are at increased risk for AIDS. Activists and HIV/AIDS service providers with whom the Washington Blade spoke in March sharply criticized Bolsonaro’s policies towards people with HIV/AIDS.

Supporters of president jair bolsonaro hold a ‘motociata’ near the brazilian congress in brasÍlia, brazil, on oct. 1, 2022. (video by michael k. lavers)

Da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010, is a member of the country’s leftist Workers’ Party.

Sergio Moro, a judge who Bolsonaro later tapped as his government’s Justice and Public Security Minister, in 2017 sentenced Da Silva to 9 1/2 years in prison after his conviction on money laundering and corruption charges that stemmed from Operation Car Wash. 

The Brazilian Supreme Court in November 2019 ordered Da Silva’s release.

Julian Rodrigues, who was the coordinator of the Workers’ Party’s National Working Group from 2006-2012, noted to the Blade during a previous interview that Da Silva in 2004 created the Health Ministry’s “Brazil without Homophobia” campaign. Rodrigues also highlighted Da Silva created the Culture Ministry’s Diversity Secretariat that, among other things, funded community centers and sought to make police officers and other law enforcement officials more friendly to LGBTQ and intersex people.

The Blade will update this story.

A flag in support of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a bookstore in Brasília, Brazil, on Oct. 1, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
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Tennessee

GOP State lawmakers to hospital: Stop gender-affirming surgeries

The clinic is the only healthcare provider in Tennessee offering clinical care programs for transgender & gender-expansive children

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The Matt Walsh Show (Screenshot/YouTube)

NASHVILLE – A group of Republican state lawmakers in Tennessee sent a letter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Pediatric Transgender Clinic demanding gender-affirming surgeries cease.

The letter came a few days after Republican Governor Bill Lee called for an investigation into the clinic at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in a statement after reporting by transphobic far-right pundit Matt Walsh on his Daily Wire show.

“The ‘pediatric transgender clinic’ at Vanderbilt University Medical Center raises serious moral, ethical and legal concerns,” Governor Lee said in his statement. “We should not allow permanent, life-altering decisions that hurt children or policies that suppress religious liberties, all for the purpose of financial gain. We have to protect Tennessee children, and this warrants a thorough investigation.”

State Rep. Jason Zachary and more than 60 of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to addressed to the chair of the hospital’s board of directors calling on Vanderbilt to halt the Clinic’s trans youth healthcare regarding gender affirming treatments.

Zachary also noted the letter also requested that all conscientious and religious objections be honored.

Walsh and the far-right extremist anti-LGBTQ Twitter account Libs of TikTok, run by Brooklyn-based Chaya Raichik have previously grabbed headlines for spreading what Trans advocates and LGBTQ+ activists call anti-LGBTQ hate speech.

Raichik who has been suspended from Facebook and also Twitter for inflammatory lies and propaganda about Trans youth healthcare, pledged to redouble her attacks on hospitals providing trans people with health care, she wrote in a rant on her Substack in which she called gender-affirming care “mutilating the body.” 

Libs of TikTok has reportedly been suspended multiple times on multiple platforms, including InstagramFacebook, and Twitter. Raichik’s last Twitter suspension came for accusing LGBTQ people of “grooming” children, which Twitter confirmed violates its policies against hateful conduct.

In line with the earlier attacks on Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Washington D.C.’s Children’s with misinformation and misleading characterizations of the trans youth health care provided by those facilities, in a lengthy thread Twitter the Daily Wire’s Walsh attacked Vanderbilt’s clinic.

Vanderbilt opened its trans clinic in 2018. During a lecture the same year, Dr. Shayne Taylor explained how she convinced Nashville to get into the gender transition game. She emphasized that it’s a “big money maker,” especially because the surgeries require a lot of “follow ups” Walsh tweeted adding:

Vanderbilt was apparently concerned that not all of its staff would be on board. Dr. Ellen Clayton warned that “conscientious objections” are “problematic.” Anyone who decides not to be involved in transition surgeries due to “religious beliefs” will face “consequences”

In case the objectors hadn’t gotten the memo, Vanderbilt unveiled a program called “Trans Buddies.” The “buddies” are trans activists from the community who attend appointments with trans patients, monitoring the doctors to guard against “unsafe” behavior such as misgendering, Walsh continued.

Vanderbilt makes their Trans Buddies available to children, too. They make lots of “services” available to children, including chemical castration. Though at some point in the last month they removed explicit admission of this fact from their site. Here’s the archived screenshot:

But they must have forgot to delete a video from Vanderbilt Psychiatry’s Youtube channel back in 2020 which admits explicitly that they will give and have given irreversible hormone drugs to children as young as 13, Walsh wrote in the thread.

After they have drugged and sterilized the kids, Vanderbilt — as explained in this video presentation by plastic surgeon Julien Winocour and Physician’s Assistant Shalyn Vanderbloemen — will happily perform double mastectomies on adolescent girls.

So, let’s review. Vanderbilt got into the gender transition game admittedly in large part because it is very financially profitable. They then threatened any staff members who objected, and enlisted a gang of trans activists to act as surveillance in order to force compliance.

They now castrate, sterilize, and mutilate minors as well as adults, while apparently taking steps to hide this activity from the public view. This is what “health care” has become in modern America, Walsh finished.

Vanderbilt responded to Walsh in a statement:

“(VUMC) is now the subject of social media posts and a video that misrepresent facts about the care the Medical Center provides to transgender patients,” said the university. “VUMC began its Transgender Health Clinic because transgender individuals are a high-risk population for mental and physical health issues and have been consistently underserved by the U.S. health system.”

Walsh also shared a video that featured Vanderbilt University law and genomics professor Ellen Clayton, who discouraged physicians from religious objections to transgender surgeries.

“Saying that you’re not going to do something because of your … religious beliefs is not without consequences, and it should not be without consequences,” she said in the undated clip. “I just want to put that out there. If you don’t want to do this kind of work, don’t work at Vanderbilt.”

The University in its statement disputed that assertion by Clayton:

“Our policies allow employees to decline to participate in care they find morally objectionable, and do not permit discrimination against employees who choose to do so. This includes employees whose personal or religious beliefs do not support gender-affirming care for transgender persons,” Vanderbilt wrote.

The Tennessee Equality Project notes that the clinic is the only healthcare provider in the state offering clinical care programs for transgender and gender-expansive children and adolescents.

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California Politics

Race to the Midterms Preview: Victory Fund’s Annise Parker

MAGA GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy only needs five seats to take back the Speaker’s gavel from fellow Californian Nancy Pelosi

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Annise Parker (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Karen Ocamb | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The tension is nearly intolerable. Just six weeks until the Nov. 8 midterm elections and headaches abound. Will voters really stick to tradition and give Republicans, the party out of power, congressional gains over quixotic turns in the economy, despite the GOP promise to pass a federal ban on abortion? California’s MAGA Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy only needs five seats to take back the Speaker’s gavel from fellow Californian, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.   

And it’s not just the House. “Yes, Democrats’ fortunes have improved, but the most likely outcome of the midterm elections is still a shift in power to the Republicans — and bigger headaches for President Biden over the next two years,” Axios reported Saturday. “Despite the streak of discouraging news, Republicans still have a clear path to retaking the Senate majority. They only need to net one seat to win back the upper chamber, and there are plenty of paths to get there even if many of their recruits fizzle out.”

Why are our LGBTQ leaders not screaming from the rafters? Report after report after report warns that LGBTQ people are at risk of not only losing access to the fruits and freedoms of democracy — including the First Amendment right to free speech — but could be erased state by state by state by state without more than a flareup of protest.  

“On March 28, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that effectively bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida’s schools. The so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill creates new restrictions on classroom speech around LGBT people and same-sex families and empowers parents to sue a school if the policy is violated, chilling any talk of LGBT themes lest schools or teachers face potentially costly litigation,” the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law recently reported. “This bill is the latest in a record-setting year of legislation targeting LGBT people: in 2022 alone, more than 200 anti-LGBT bills have been introduced in state legislatures across a range of issues, with a majority targeting transgender individuals,” despite a recent PRRI poll showing that 79 percent of Americans favor laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination. 

“LGBT rights are the canary in the coal mine of democratic backsliding,” the report continues. “Authoritarian leaders may target LGBT people precisely because their rights are seen as less institutionalized than other groups….Even Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was explicitly modeled after similar efforts in Hungary.  Against this backdrop, we should recognize the propagation of anti-LGBT laws in the U.S. for what it signifies: an existential threat to our inclusive democracy.”

One leader traveling around the country, raising the alarm and raising the stakes for the LGBTQ community facing the midterms is former Houston, Texas Mayor Annise Parker, now President and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the Victory Institute. Founded in 1991 with two LGBTQ candidates, the Victory Fund has now endorsed and promoted more than 450 out candidates seeking election on Nov. 8 to not only congressional seats but down-ballot state and local seats, as well. Victory’s Political Team is also on the ground campaigning and getting out the vote in states such Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, Kentucky, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Connecticut. 

In the upcoming special episode of Race to the Midterms, produced by Karen Ocamb and Max Huskins in conjunction with the Los Angeles Blade, we talk to Annise Parker about the state of the nation and the Out candidates running to make America better.

“Our candidates win at the same rate that any other candidates win,” says Parker. “When you control for your experience and the demographics of the district and the quality of the campaign, which is a really good sign. , and the fact that more and more people are acknowledging their gender identity or their sexual orientation — for us, having been in this game for so many decades with a singular purpose, whether someone is successful, I mean, we do want to see candidates win, but whether they ultimately are successful at the ballot box — when they run as their authentic selves, they’re true to themselves, they’re comfortable in their own skin, it has a transformative effect. And we’re excited about the possibilities this year.”

Check LosAngelesBlade.com later today to see the full interview and clips of some of the candidates Parker highlights. 

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