Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Uniting for Immigrant LGBT Rights

This article shared 2612 times since Wed Mar 1, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

By Tania Unzueta Carrasco

The immigrant-rights group Latinos Progresando ( LP ) has begun a campaign to create awareness of LGBT immigrant rights within the LGBT and Latino communities. They are working with a coalition of organizations including Amigas Latinas, ALMA, the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Lambda Legal, Rainbow House, the Center on Halsted and Radio Arte, among others.

Laura Pichardo became a lawyer with LP six months ago, and she says that an initiative such as this one has been necessary for a long time. Aside from some of the legal obstacles, such as the lack of recognition of same-sex marriages, there are issues of asylum, domestic violence, as well as social problems such as the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist about LGBT immigrants within both populations.

Pichardo has the full support of the organization, including that of the board of directors and Luis Gutierrez, the executive director of Latinos Progresando. Gutierrez says that his organization is here to serve all of the Latino community, and that by ignoring the LGBT population, immigrant-rights organizations are doing a disservice to the whole community. 'We see it like the civil rights movement of the '60s and '70s,' says Gutierrez. 'It is important to support people who are part of the community, where there is discrimination.'

Legal boundaries

Part of this campaign will focus on addressing some of the legal boundaries faced by LGBT immigrants. 'We already know that many members of our community legalize their status through their family,' Pichardo explains. She says that a person who qualifies for residency in every other way, including having a partner who is a citizen, does not have access to the same process of naturalization that heterosexual couples do. 'This is a very big problem. It means that LGBT families are not respected or treated the same as other families,' noted Pichardo.

She also adds that this means that many immigrants who want to legalize their status turn to heterosexual marriage, sometimes meaning they have to keep their homosexuality a secret from their partners.

But this is just one of the problems. 'There are many members of our community who have to flee their countries because they live in a society where they are constantly threatened because of their sexual orientation' says Pichardo. While there have been some successful cases of asylum due to sexual orientation in Latin America, she says that 'there is still a lot of tension, lack of knowledge and prejudice in this country's system about the needs and experiences that they have in their countries.'

Then there are the legal issues people with HIV/AIDS face. According to current U.S. immigration law, an HIV-positive person can be denied entrance into the country, as well as lawful permanent residency, unless he or she gets a waiver.

Pichardo also maintains that this work may bring up issues that the LGBT community does not like to talk about, such as domestic violence. People who are in same-sex relationships who are victims of domestic violence and who are immigrants are not protected by the same laws that people in heterosexual relationships.

Specifically, she referrers to the Violence Against Women Act, which gives battered women the right to continue their residency process independently. 'These people suffer at the same level as heterosexuals,' argues Pichardo. 'The federal system and the immigration service have come to the conclusion that couples of the same sex are not worth the same as heterosexual couples.'

In general, though, Pichardo believes that it is not only about correcting these aspects of the law: 'It is a system that puts work and family in the center, meaning that a person has no worth within the system if they are not married or have a certain relationship with a citizen or a resident. The system is broken.'

Creating bridges

But some of the hardest obstacles will be outside the legal arena. When asked how LP will work on educating both the LGBT and Latino communities on misconceptions about LGBT immigrants, Pichardo answers that it is a difficult question, but it is about making people realize their similarities, and making them see that LGBT immigrants 'are our family [ and that ] they live with us. Without them, we are not us.'

Furthermore, she said, 'We have to confront the LGBT community, because we don't like to admit it, but we have to deal with the xenophobia and racism that exists here.' The LGBT community has some of the same stereotypes about the immigrant community that the rest of the population does. ' [ Some of the stereotypes are ] that they take our resources, there has to be more protection in the border, they are a danger to national security, they don't pay taxes, they take advantage of public benefits, [ and ] they just take and don't give anything back,' Pichardo listed.

'But nothing could be further from the truth,' she continues, 'because immigrants give, give, give, and what they receive in return is very little.' Indeed, even undocumented immigrants are assigned an Individual Taxpayer Information Number that allows the federal government to tax the income of those without a social security number.

Additionally, a majority of undocumented immigrants never get the tax returns that they qualify for. In 2001, Alan Greenspan, then-chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said that in Illinois alone ' [ i ] llegal workers pay $547 million in taxes yearly, compared to $238 million in services used,' which leaves $309 million.

Nevertheless, it is not solely justifying a person's worth or contribution to the economy. The executive director of LP says that it is important for people to realize that discrimination against one group affects all. 'It's something ugly,' says Gutierrez, 'and we have to bring an end to it.'

Both Gutierrez and Pichardo invite all of those who are interested to join this movement 'to create education [ and ] to make change.' For more information about this initiative, or help with legal immigration services, visit or call LP at ( 312 ) 850-0572.

This article shared 2612 times since Wed Mar 1, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

Lawsuits filed against USCIS for failing to hear Ukrainian, Russian LGBTQ asylum claims 2023-08-02
--From a press release - NEW YORK, NY — Legal Services NYC and Wilmer Hale announce two new lawsuits against the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of two LGBTQ asylum seekers, one from Russia and another from ...

Gay News

Transgender Day of Resilience: Town Hall panelists tackle allyship, discrimination and immigration 2022-11-23
- Brave Space Alliance (BSA), Life Is Work (LIW) and Chicago Therapy Collective (CTC) hosted three free events across the city that they named—TDOR Weekend: A New Era, Together— to celebrate ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ rights and immigration activist Edafe Okporo to be honored with American Heritage Award 2022-06-14
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, June 13, 2022—The American Immigration Council will honor global LGBTQ+ rights activist and founder of Refuge America, Edafe Okporo, with its American Heritage Award on Friday, June 17 at the Javits Center in New York. ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Urvashi Vaid dies, The National LGBTQ Task Force releases statement 2022-05-14
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC……Legendary attorney, LGBTQ activist, and author Urvashi Vaid, known for her extensive career an advocate for LGBTQ rights, women's rights, anti-war efforts, immigration justice and many other social causes ...

Gay News

Achy Obejas' bilingual poetry book Boomerang/Bumeran explores immigration, liberation 2021-10-11
- Achy Obejas is a Cuban-American writer, translator and activist. Boomerang/Bumerán, her newest book, confronts questions of immigration, love and liberation. Like a boomerang, these ideas return throughout the collection, even ...

Gay News

CAIC announces 2021 Collaborative Works Festival, immigration, migration in song 2021-09-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) begins its eleventh anniversary season with its annual Collaborative Works Festival, held in venues around Chicago from October 6 9, 2021. The 2021 Collaborative ...

Gay News

Quigley again calls for end to detention of trans migrants 2021-07-09
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Vice Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus and a founding Member of the Transgender Equality Task Force, led thirty House Democrats in calling for an end to ...

Gay News

OP-ED Foreign drug pricing puts America's most vulnerable patients last 2021-07-03
By Guy Anthony - It's no coincidence that American companies led the charge to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Numerous policies from strong patent protections to a welcoming immigration system help ensure that the world's smartest scientists can ...

Gay News

Quigley advocates for trans immigrants during ICE hearing 2021-05-13
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Vice-Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus and a founding member of the Transgender Equality Task Force, questioned Acting Director of Immigration ...

Gay News

Applications for asylum based on LGBT status top 11,000 between 2012, 2017 2021-03-04
--From a press release - A new study from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that 11,400 applications for asylum on the basis of LGBT status were filed in the U.S. between 2012 and 2017. Three out of ...

Gay News

TANIA UNZUETA: Fighting for justice, one cause at a time 2021-03-04
- LGBTQ, immigration and political activist Tania Unzueta has spent the last three years living in Georgia involved in political and electoral organizing. She returned to Chicago in January with her partner. Unzueta came to Chicago from ...

Gay News

1.3 million adult immigrants in the US identify as LGBT 2021-02-23
--From a press release - LGBT immigrants are more often male and younger compared to all immigrants in the country An estimated 1,274,500 LGBT foreign-born adults live in the U.S., including 289,700 who are undocumented and 984,800 who are documented, according ...

Gay News

Cook County Board unanimously approves immigration resolution 2021-01-29
- On Jan. 28, the Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved resolution #21-0495, which calls upon the federal government to implement policies to protect the immigrant community and strengthen the immigration system in the United States. ...

Gay News

Calif. court blocks Trump administration's asylum rule 2021-01-09
- In response to a request from Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an order on Jan. 8 blocking, in its ...

Gay News

Lambda Legal, others challenge Trump administration's asylum rule 2020-12-22
- Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality and co-counsel Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP filed a federal lawsuit, Immigration Equality v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, challenging the Trump administration's recently published ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.