Thousands of LGBTQ individuals come to the United States every year seeking political asylum. They come from countries where they face violence and persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
How will Donald Trump as President impact LGBT asylum seekers? Maria Blacque-Belair From RIF (Refugee and Immigrant Fund) consulted with some immigration attorneys and here are some initial thoughts she is sharing with clients in the short term.
1. First Obama is still president until January 2017 so absolutely nothing will change for asylum applicants till then.
2. Trump in all his rhetoric about immigration policies has NOT indicated that he would reform the asylum process ( he has talked mostly about the refugee resettlement process and more specifically about barring the resettlement of Syrian refugees).
3. Even if he wanted to change asylum law, as part of the 1951 Refugee Convention which the US is a signatory, it would take a long time, many years to do so, and he would face a huge opposition.
4. Therefore, according to asylum law, those who come to America with a visa and then decide to apply for asylum, it is their right to do so. NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
5. Finally we totally understand that you feel uncertain and confused, we will continue to update you on any new information, and also hope that you will join us in fighting Donald Trump anti immigrants action.
This is good news for LGBT asylum seekers for the most part. There are many issues that will need to be monitored in the months ahead, of course. And it is important to remember that the experiences of those who apply for asylum from inside the country can be much different from the experiences of those who request asylum at the border and are detained.
LGBT asylum seekers and all LGBT individuals placed in U.S. Immigration detention still report significant violations of their humanity. These LGBT individuals, and particularly the Transgender community, have reported solitary confinement, torture, and ill-treatment. LGBT individuals in detention are up to 15 times more likely to experience sexual assault.
Among the worst offenders are corporate run detention facilities including the Adelanto Detention Facility in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. In the months ahead we will likely see a push from the Trump Administration to privatize more detention centers (and prisons), and this is an issue LGBT folks should be watching closely.
For more information on LGBT asylum, be sure to check out the LGBT Freedom Asylum Network.