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Trump executive order to suspend US immigration for 60 days

Groups that work with LGBTQ migrants sharply criticize directive

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Thousands of migrants currently live in a camp in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, which is across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas. The Los Angeles Blade visited this camp in January. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Advocacy groups on Tuesday sharply criticized President Trump over his executive order that will effectively stop immigration into the U.S.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our great American citizens, I will be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” proclaimed Trump late Monday in a tweet that referred to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump during the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s daily press briefing on Tuesday announced the “temporary suspension of immigration into the U.S.” will remain in place for 60 days.

The New York Times reported the order only applies to those who are seeking green cards that would allow them to permanently live and work in the U.S. It is not immediately clear if the order would apply to refugees or asylum recipients.

Trump said he will likely sign the order on Wednesday.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Monday announced the U.S.-Canada border and the U.S.-Mexico border will remain closed to non-essential travel for an additional 30 days. Wolf at the March 20 press conference that announced the closures said undocumented immigrants will not be allowed into the U.S.

“As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions, and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread of coronavirus and allowing the phased opening of the country,” said Wolf on Monday in a tweet.

The suspension of international flights and border closures have essentially stopped immigration into the U.S. Trump’s announcement also coincides with continued criticism of the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine indicate there are 820,104 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 44,228 deaths. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, among many others, have said the White House needs to do more to address the shortage of testing in the country before stay-at-home orders can be relaxed and businesses are able to reopen.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday said there are 253 confirmed coronavirus cases among detainees who are in their detention centers. Immigration Equality is among the groups that continue to demand ICE release people with HIV and detainees who are at increased risk for th virus.  

A man uses a makeshift ladder to scale a fence that marks the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Immigration ‘largely frozen across the world’

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade on Tuesday noted “immigration processes are largely frozen across the world; many borders remain closed and international travel is negligible.”

“As such, President Trump’s tweet announcing an upcoming executive order temporarily banning all immigration is redundant and only serves to blame foreigners for effects of the pandemic, instead of seeking solutions to the global problem,” said Stern.

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration is a Minnesota-based organization that works with LGBTQ migrants and refugees around the world. Jardín de las Mariposas, an LGBTQ migrant shelter in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, is among those with which ORAM has partnered.

ORAM Executive Director Steve Roth on Tuesday sharply criticized Trump.

“What the president is proposing is not only in violation of international and domestic law, it will also have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers,” Roth told the Blade in a statement. “This is especially true of LGBTQ migrants who face higher rates of violence and discrimination at the border due to their sexual orientation and gender identity and who have higher rates of HIV and other underlying health conditions.”

“This is a travesty and a new low for this administration,” he added.

Roth and Stern spoke with the Blade before Trump addressed his executive order at the White House.

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The White House

Los Angeles to host Summit of the Americas in June

The U.S. will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in LA in June 2022 focused on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, & Equitable Future”

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President Joe Biden (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – The White House announced Tuesday that Los Angeles has been chosen by the Biden administration to host this year’s Summit of the Americas, the institutionalized gatherings of the heads of state and government of the Western Hemisphere.

The Summit of the Americas is where leaders discuss common policy issues, affirm shared values and commit to concerted actions at the national and regional level to address continuing and new challenges faced in the Americas.

The United States will host the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles in June 2022 with a focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” for the Western hemisphere.

The vital national interests of the United States are inextricably bound to the fortunes of our closest neighbors in the Americas. To that end, the ability of our democracies to close the gap between what we promise and what we deliver depends in no small part on what we do, together, to make it better,” President Biden said in his statement.

“The Summit of the Americas is the only hemisphere-wide convening of leaders from the countries of North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean. U.S. leadership in the Summit process underscores our deep and historical commitment to the people of the Western Hemisphere as well as our commitment to realizing the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative,” the statement said.

“Working with the city of Los Angeles, Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti, and Governor of California Gavin Newsom, the United States looks forward to convening leaders and stakeholders across the hemisphere to advance our shared commitment to economic prosperity, security, human rights, and dignity,” the statement added.

U.S. officials hope will help mend diplomatic fences in the Western Hemisphere, officials familiar with the decision told the Los Angeles Times.

The administration is expected to cite the city’s “deep and robust” ties throughout the hemisphere as one of the reasons it was selected, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter ahead of the formal announcement.

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Ohio

Marriage equality plaintiff Obergefell running for Ohio state legislature

Obergefell was the plaintiff seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide

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Jim Obergefell (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

SANDUSKY, Oh. – Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the litigation that ensured same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide, announced on Tuesday he’d pursue a new endeavor and run for a seat in the state legislature in his home state of Ohio.

“You deserve a representative who does the right thing, no matter what. You deserve a representative who fights to make things better for everyone,” Obergefell said. “I’ve been part of a national civil rights case that made life better for millions of Americans. Simply put, I fight for what’s right and just.”

Obergefell, who claims residency in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a seat to represent 89th Ohio District, which comprises Erie and Ottawa Counties. A key portion of his announcement was devoted to vowing to protect the Great Lakes adjacent to Ohio.

“We need to invest in our Great Lake, protect our Great Lake, and make the nation envious that Ohio has smartly invested in one of the greatest freshwater assets in the world,” Obergefell said.

Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the consolidated litigation of plaintiffs seeking marriage rights that led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in 2015 for same-sex marriage nationwide. Obergefell was widower to John Arthur, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and was seeking the right to be recognized as his spouse on his death certificate. The ruling in the consolidated cases ensured same-sex couples would enjoy the full benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

“We should all be able to participate fully in society and the economy, living in strong communities with great public schools, access to quality healthcare, and with well-paying jobs that allow us to stay in the community we love, with the family we care about,” Obergefell said in a statement on his candidacy.

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Arizona

Arizona lawmakers and activists push back against anti-LGBTQ bills

Arizona is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ bills. In 2020 lawmakers sent an anti-LGBTQ education bill to Republican Gov. Ducey’s desk- he vetoed it

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Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs hung Trans & LGBTQ+ Pride flags on the balcony of the historic state Capitol building on Friday, June 28, 2019. Courtesy of Arizona Secretary of State’s Office

PHOENIX – Political leaders and activists in Arizona are sounding the alarm bells over nearly a dozen anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by Republican lawmakers in the state legislature. 

The discriminatory bills – totaling nine to date, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – mirror much of the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced last year around the country, in what was a record year for legislation attacking the LGBTQ community, particularly trans people. 

Three of the bills – Senate Bill 1130, which would ban gender-affirming care for minors, Senate Bill 1165, an anti-trans sports bill, and House Bill 2112, which could prohibit the teaching of racism and sex discrimination – are set for committee meetings this week. 

Senate Bill 1130 was introduced by Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, who, as the Blade reported last year, is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump and a member of the far-right anti-government militia organization Oath Keepers.

Other bills would limit gender markers on official documentation to only “male” and “female,” make educators only use incorrect pronouns for students if it differs from their birth certificate and force students to get written permission to join clubs involving gender identity or sexuality. 

“This is an attack on human rights,” said Arizona state Rep. César Chávez, chairman of the Arizona LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, at a press conference hosted by the HRC. “We’re criminalizing individuals for being who they are. On top of that, we’re criminalizing doctors and health care workers, individuals that are doing their job.”

Sponsors of these bills say that they will benefit their communities and protect women and children. However, Chávez accused the Republican party of wanting to “attack our youth and those individuals who identify as LGBT+.” 

Lizette Trujillo, a parent of a trans child in Tucson, Arizona, detailed the toll that the proposed legislation takes on her son and her family. 

“Legislators in our state are wielding their power to leverage the most vulnerable youth in our state to further their political careers,” she said, adding: “This causes irreparable harm on the transgender community.” 

She also had an urgent message for members of her community: “Help us stop power-hungry legislators in this blatant attack,” she said. “Help us stop our government from using parents like me and kids like mine as their political pawns. Transgender kids exist – protect them, believe them, support them and affirm them.

Trujillo, who is also a member of the HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality National Council, has become accustomed to the fight for her son’s rights. In 2019, the HRC featured her for “leading the charge” for LGBTQ-inclusive education within the Tucson Unified School District. 

Arizona is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ bills. Last year, state lawmakers sent an anti-LGBTQ education bill to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk. But he ended up vetoing the bill, calling it “broad and overly vague.” 

Now, pro-LGBTQ lawmakers and activists in the state are readying to push back against such legislation. 

According to Bridget Sharpe of HRC Arizona, the group plans to show up to the statehouse and testify against the anti-LGBTQ legislation. She said that is the best way to get results. They will make their first appearance Thursday, where Trujillo will be a speaker. 

Chávez wants to have conversations with his colleagues across the aisle, noting that it has “become a rarity here in the Arizona State Legislature,” but that they are “very meaningful.”

“I will say that it’s going to take political will from my Republican colleagues to be able to vote against these bills,” he said.

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