Activists say immigration policies already discriminate against GLBT people, urge participation in protests
National GLBT leaders are urging GLBT people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to participate in marches in Dallas and Fort Worth on Sunday protesting strict immigration reform measures now being debated in Congress.
The U.S. Senate is debating an immigration reform bill that would create a guest worker program. Whatever legislation it passes would have to be reconciled with a more stringent House version that would treat illegal immigrants as criminals, making it a felony to come into the country illegally, and to offer any aid to an illegal immigrant.
“I think this is one of those opportunities in which LGBT Latinos need to show support and become a part of the larger Latino community,” said Monica Taher, people of color media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
“I have not heard of a specific march by or for LGBT Latinos. But immigration affects us all. This is a good way of showing our solidarity with heterosexual Latinos.”
In Fort Worth, March for Justice organizers are urging participants to begin gathering in downtown Fort Worth at 12:30 p.m. The march begins at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Tarrant County Courthouse on the corner of Main and Weatherford streets. Marchers will travel down Main Street to West 9th Street. The march ends at the federal courthouse.
The march in Dallas, organized primarily by the Dallas chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, starts at 1 p.m. at the Guadalupe Cathedral on Ross Street downtown and ends with a rally at Dallas City Hall.
Organizers said they are expecting a large number of people, and are encouraging participants to take DART buses downtown for the march. Buses will be available to take marchers from City Hall back to the cathedral at the end of the event.
Organizers also ask that participants wear white t-shirts as a sign of peace, and that each marcher bring water to drink during the event.
Immigration Equality, a national organization with local chapters in cities around the country, including Dallas, noted that U.S. immigration policies already prohibit GLBT citizens from sponsoring their foreign national partners for immigration benefits and prohibit immigration by HIV-positive people. The bill approved by the House also “jeopardizes the safety” of GLBT and HIV-positive people who face persecution in their home countries and are seeking asylum in the U.S., Immigration Equality said.
The measure’s expansion of employment verification requirements further erodes workers’ privacy and “creates particular dangers for transgender people, whose identity documents may not match their actual gender,” the organization said.
A group of 18 GLBT civil rights organizations, in California and nationally, released a statement Thursday opposing the House of Representatives’ immigration reform bill, calling it “the most draconian political measures targeting the immigrant community in 80 years.”
The statement said the nation’s most vulnerable had become a convenient target for politicians seek conservative voters favor.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 07, 2006.