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LGBT immigrants may obtain asylum easier if they are not in detention deportation proceedings

Report: LGBT immigrants may obtain asylum easier if they are not in
detention deportation proceedings
ALFONSO CHARDY

A new report says LGBT immigrants stand a better chance of winning their
asylum cases in the United States if the are not in detention or in
deportation proceedings.

The Washington-based group Center for American Progress (CAP) issued the
46-page report titled Humanitarian Diplomacy, aimed at urging the U.S.
government to do more to enhance asylum and other immigration
protections for foreign nationals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or
transgender.

The report, released Thursday, was issued on the 30th anniversary of a
landmark immigration court petition in which a gay Cuban Mariel boatlift
refugee became the first immigrant allowed to file a claim for asylum on
the grounds of in Cuba for his sexual orientation.

In 1985, Fidel Armando Toboso-Alfonso applied for asylum after an
immigration terminated his parole and placed him in exclusion
proceedings. Though Toboso-Alfonso did not win asylum, he was allowed to
stay by the judge under a ruling of withholding — a lesser protection.

Nevertheless, Toboso-Alfonso made history because his case was the first
to establish the precedent that gay — and now LGBTs — can claim
persecution for sexual orientation as grounds for asylum proceedings.

The new report provides perhaps the first comprehensive look at the
state of asylum for LGBT immigrants. Since U.S. immigration authorities
do not collect sexual orientation and gender identity data in the asylum
system, report authorities relied on statistics and information provided
by the groups Immigration Equality and First. Immigration
Equality is a pro bono legal service provider for LGBT and -positive
immigrants and Human Rights First is an international human rights
organization based in New York, Washington, D.C. and Houston.

“In light of the extreme and persecution inflicted by state
actors and citizens in many countries, the United States must ensure
that LGBT people are not denied lifesaving protections such as asylum by
factors unrelated to the merits of their claims,” according to the
newly-released report.

Among its principal findings:

▪ LGBT immigrants who are in detention or in deportation proceedings in
immigration court are less likely to win their asylum cases than those
who are free and pursuing their petitions before asylum officers of U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Homeland Security
agency that processes immigrant documents and applications for benefits.

▪ LGBT immigrants are more likely than other immigrants to wait long to
seek asylum, thus often missing the deadline required by the government
to present a petition within a year of arriving in the country.

The report also says LGBT immigrants often need more than one year to
file an asylum claim both because they are not aware of the deadline and
also because many are traumatized when they first arrive in the United
States.

“For people who have spent their lives hiding their identity from
government officials in order to survive, it is unsurprising that they
would need more than one year to be able to disclose their sexual
orientation or gender identity to a government official, particularly if
they are recovering from trauma caused by the persecution they faced,”
the report says. “Another reason why LGBT people may be
disproportionately affected by the one-year deadline is that they may
not know that persecution based on sexual orientation and gender
identity is grounds for asylum.”

In the United States, foreign nationals can apply for asylum if they
claim persecution under five specific categories: race, religion,
nationality, membership in a particular social group and political opinion.

“For the first time, we have a glimpse into the challenges [LGBT
immigrants] face and can promote specific recommendations to ensure that
far fewer aren’t sent back to lives of dangerous persecution” said
Sharita Gruberg, CAP senior policy analyst and co-author of the report.

Source: Report: LGBT immigrants may obtain asylum easier if they are not
in detention deportation proceedings | Miami Herald Miami Herald –
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article24978658.html

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