Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress convened an event on LGBT Americans that are also undocumented immigrants featuring Define American founder Jose Antonio Vargas, and released “In Dual Shadows: LGBT Undocumented Immigrants.” In light of the Williams Institute of UCLA’s findings that there are at least 267,000 LGBT-identified individuals among the adult undocumented-immigrant population, this CAP report details the disparities and hardships that make these individuals among the most vulnerable members of our society, recommending the passage of immigration reform with an earned road map to citizenship, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and a modification of detention and asylum standards to address the issues facing this community.
Compared to all undocumented immigrants, some of the findings in the report include the following:
- LGBT-identified undocumented immigrants are more likely to be male. Out of LGBT-identified immigrants, 67 percent are male and 33 percent are female. Out of all undocumented immigrants, 57 percent are male and 43 percent are female.
- LGBT-identified undocumented immigrants are younger. Forty-nine percent of LGBT undocumented immigrants are under age 30, compared to 30 percent of all undocumented immigrants.
- LGBT-identified undocumented immigrants are less likely to be Hispanic. Seventy-one percent of LGBT-identified undocumented immigrants are Hispanic, while 77 percent of all undocumented immigrants are Hispanic.
“The LGBT community, particularly undocumented LGBT immigrants, have a lot at stake as the immigration debate moves forward. The unique challenges facing this community need to be given fair consideration and attention as we determine the best way to reform our immigration system and provide a road map to citizenship. Today’s report is an eye-opening reminder of the complexities of these concerns and a reminder that as a matter of conscience and fairness, we must be mindful of the specific burdens faced by LGBT immigrants,” said Angela Maria Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress.
Undocumented LGBT immigrants face numerous challenges endemic both to their lack of immigration status and their sexual orientation and gender identity. Both undocumented individuals and LGBT Americans face employment insecurity, income insecurity, gaps in health insurance coverage, and mental health disparities. For those who are both LGBT and undocumented, their double minority status has compounding harmful effects on their social, economic, and physical well-being.
Providing a road map to earned citizenship would allow the 267,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants to have the peace of mind that deportations would not tear them away from their families, while allowing them to earn higher wages and have greater access to social services and increased job security. But without legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect against discrimination in the workplace, wage and health gaps will still persist after legalization.
You can read the full report here and view an infographic here.