Issues: Immigration

LGBT people from all over the globe come to the United States for many different reasons. Some come to escape civil unrest. Others seek a better life for their children. Some fall in love with an American citizen. And still others flee, simply and most crucially, because their very lives are at stake.

LGBT immigrants face specific and varying challenges that other immigrants don’t, and U.S. immigration laws unfairly discriminate against LGBT people. As immigrants, their lives here are often precarious and endangered. With our unique expertise and experience, NCLR is committed to helping overcome the immigration hurdles faced by LGBT immigrants.

news & opinion

Press Release

Nation’s Leading LGBT Advocacy Organizations Reject Efforts by House GOP to Play Politics and Leave Millions of Immigrants Behind with KIDS Act
7.23.13 (San Francisco, CA, July 23, 2013)— This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives will meet to discuss the so-called KIDS Act, a piece of craven political theater that threatens to tear apart immigrant families. Singling out some immigrant youth for a path to citizenship while subjecting their families to constant fear of deportation is as senseless as it is out of step with the American public. It’s time to stop playing politics with people’s lives.

Press Release

Nation’s Leading LGBT Advocacy Organizations Thank Sen. Leahy for Amendment to Give Same Sex Couples Equal Rights; Oppose Amendments that Will Obstruct Path to Citizenship
6.11.13—Today, the Senate cleared its first major hurdle in its effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform, voting on a procedural measure that will allow the legislation to move forward by a vote of 82-15.

Press Release

LGBT DREAMers Join President Obama to Celebrate Pride Month
6.12.13 (WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2013)—Today, four LGBT DREAMers, who were recently granted work permits under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, traveled from across the country to attend a White House reception in honor of Pride month.

Press Release

Nation's Leading LGBT Advocacy Organizations Respond to Senate Judiciary Committee Failure to Consider UAFA
5.21.13—This statement can be attributed to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, United We Dream and Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, Lambda Legal, Equality Federation and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to passing compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform that will provide a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented men, women and children living in our country, including at least 267,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants.

Press Release

Nation’s Leading LGBT Advocacy Organizations Stand Firm for Immigration Reform
5.01.13—Following is a statement in response to evangelicals’ threat to withdraw support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation if it includes a provision that recognizes same-sex bi-national couples.


NCLR Responds to Introduction of Federal Immigration Reform Legislation
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
4.17.13—Today, a bipartisan group of Senators who have been working on a plan to fix the current broken U.S. immigration system released their long-awaited proposal for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, presents a massive overhaul to many aspects of our current approach to immigration. The plan provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, including an expedited process for DREAMers, creates new types of visas, and requires the government to clear the high backlog for family-sponsored visas.

Press Release

On National Immigration Day of Action, Nation's Leading LGBT Advocacy Organizations Stand in Solidarity for Immigration Reform
4.10.13—Today, national lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations join local, state, and national immigration, civil rights, and LGBT groups and advocates marching for justice for all immigrants on National Immigration Day of Action.

Press Release

Special Fund Helps LGBT “DREAMers” Get Work Permits and Relief from Deportation—LGBT Dreamers Helped So Far Share Their Stories
2.19.13—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 four dozen LGBT organizations.


President Obama Unveils Inclusive Immigration Plan
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell
1.29.13—Today, President Obama laid out a broad proposal for legislation that will overhaul U.S. immigration policy and replace it with a humane and workable system. In a much-anticipated address in Las Vegas, President Obama announced general principles he would like to see included in forthcoming legislation. The White House subsequently released a factsheet containing additional information and more detailed proposals, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and the substance of two pieces of legislation that have been particularly important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Groups Release Joint Statement on Immigration Reform as U.S. Senators Release Set of Principles for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
1.28.13—National lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, today released a joint statement reiterating the call for a comprehensive immigration policy that ensures fair and just treatment for all those currently impacted by our failed immigration policy. It comes as a bipartisan group of U.S. senators today released a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform, and as President Obama prepares to announce his own immigration plans tomorrow.

Press Release

$75K Fund Opens Today to Help LGBT Undocumented Immigrants Pay for Application Fees Under Deferred Action Program
9.21.12—Young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender undocumented immigrants struggling to pay application fees under President Obama’s new "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) can now receive financial help. Today, the LGBT Dreamers Fund-made possible by more than $75,000 in contributions from LGBT movement leaders-officially begins accepting applications, giving many young LGBT undocumented immigrants a chance to apply for the protections available under the President's new program.

Press Release

More than $75,000 Raised by LGBT Organizations and Leaders to Help Dreamers Apply for new “Deferred Action” Program
9.12.12—More than $75,000 has been raised by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations and LGBT movement leaders to help young LGBT undocumented immigrants pay for work permit applications made possible through President Obama’s new "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) program. Under current law, Dreamers cannot obtain lawful employment, making the DACA application fees of nearly $470 largely out of reach. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center rallied other LGBT organizations across the country to contribute to the “LGBT Dreamers Fund” to help young LGBT undocumented immigrants pay these fees.

Press Release

NCLR Co-Hosts Deferred Action Immigration Forum in San Francisco
8.27.12—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is pleased to co-sponsor a community forum on the newly announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on August 29, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Main Library’s Koret Auditorium. A panel of attorneys and experts will provide information—ranging from who qualifies for the program to how to apply—at Wednesday’s forum. Speakers include Victoria Argumedo, Esq., Sara Izadpanah, Esq. (Surowitz & Argumedo) and Martha Melendrez (Dream Team LA/United We Dream.) This event is co-sponsored by the Chicana/Latina Foundation and United We Dream.

Press Release

LGBT Legal Groups Support Undocumented Law Graduate, Urge California Supreme Court to Grant Law License
7.18.12—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of itself and Lambda Legal urging the California Supreme Court to grant the application of a California law school graduate who is also an undocumented immigrant to become a licensed attorney in California. The brief was filed in support of Sergio C. Garcia’s application to become a member of the State Bar of California. The Board of Examiners of the California State Bar has already determined that Mr. Garcia is qualified and should be admitted to the State Bar.

from the docket

Victory! (Mexico)

In re M.G.
M.G. is a gay man from Mexico who came to the United States fleeing physical abuse from gangs and extortion by the police. When his mother died when he was 17, M.G. faced more physical violence from his father and his oldest brother because of his sexual orientation. Feeling desperate, he moved out and was homeless until he was eventually taken in by a neighbor in his small town of Mixquiahuala de Juarez. This neighbor treated him like a son and gave him shelter, food, and protection. Nevertheless, her sons were unhappy about M.G. staying there and would not allow him to eat at the table with them or enter their homes. By the time he was 20, he left and headed for the capital, where he found a job in an auto shop.

Victory! (Uganda)

In re E.G.
E.G. is a young gay man from Uganda who came to the United States in order to pursue higher education. As a child and young adult, he was often verbally abused by his family members for behaving in a way that seemed too different from other boys. As he grew older, he learned to hide his sexuality for fear of being arrested by the police on the basis of his sexual orientation. E.G. hid from government operatives who hunt down men who are suspected to be gay, and then once arrested, are often tortured.

Victory! (Honduras)

In re A.C.
A.C. is a prominent lesbian activist for LGBT rights and women’s rights in Honduras. A paramilitary gang of masked, armed men attacked A.C. in her home in Honduras and sexually assaulted her while making derogatory comments about her sexual orientation. A.C. did not report the sexual assault to the police, fearing that the police would subject her to further harassment or violence. After the attack, A.C. received a series of threatening phone calls that also used derogatory terms to describe her sexual orientation. She eventually fled to the United States and filed for asylum.

publications & downloads

NCLR Immigration Project Brochure (pdf) NCLR Folleto del Proyecto de Inmigración (pdf)

This publication offers an overview of NCLR’s immigration and asylum work.

The Challenges to Successful Lesbian Asylum Claims (pdf)

This publication provides a comprehensive analysis of the unique challenges of lesbian asylum claims, including practical advice and legal strategies for lesbian asylum seekers.

Foreign and International Law in Gay Rights Litigation: Separated and Unequal (pdf)

United States immigration law unfairly impacts the lives of lesbian and gay couples in committed bi-national relationships and is a glaring exception to a growing trend in western democracies towards recognition of immigration rights for same-sex bi-national couples.


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