Media Release: September 30, 2014

Contact: Scott Overland (Polis), (202) 225-2161
Dan Linder (Grijalva), (202) 225-2435
Andrew Gernt (Cicilline), (202) 225-4911
Peter Whippy (Lofgren), (202) 225-3072

WASHINGTON, DC — On Monday, Representatives Jared Polis (CO-02), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), David Cicilline (RI-01), and Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) sent a letter signed by forty-four Members of Congress to President Barack Obama urging him to include protections for LGBT immigrants as he develops and implements new executive actions on immigration.

The Representatives recognized that the President alone cannot fix our nation’s broken immigration system, but called on him to use the executive powers he does have to address the unique challenges faced by LGBT immigrants who currently face additional complications, including familial separation and gender-based violence in detention.

“By exercising your power to implement administrative policies that take into account the uniquely dangerous and difficult circumstances facing LGBT immigrants, you have the ability to protect thousands of individuals immediately,” the Representatives wrote. “[I]t is imperative that you use the tools at your disposal to ensure that families stay together, that immigrants are not put in harm’s way, and that LGBT people are not subjected, at the hands of the American government, to the dangers from which they have fled.”

There are currently 267,000 LGBT immigrants living in the United States, many of whom came to this country to escape threats and extreme violence. Existing Department of Homeland Security prosecutorial discretion policies have failed to implement a meaningful balancing test that properly weighs strong equities against negative factors, making at-risk LGBT immigrants much less likely to qualify for protection. In addition, LGBT immigrants are routinely deported back to nations in which their sexual orientation or gender identity places their lives at risk.