LGBT DREAMers Join President Obama to Celebrate Pride Month

June 13, 2013

(WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2013)—Today, four LGBT DREAMers, who were recently granted work permits under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, traveled from across the country to attend a White House reception in honor of Pride month.

The four DREAMers—Carla Lopez and Luis Liang of San Francisco, Jose Mendoza of Los Angeles, and Alejandra “Ale” Estrada of Las Vegas—met one-on-one with President Obama, sharing their personal immigration stories and thanking him for the DACA program. June 15 marks the one-year anniversary of the DACA program, which gives young undocumented immigrants the opportunity to legally work in the U.S. and no longer live under a threat of deportation.

These four LGBT DREAMers—who received grants through the LGBT DREAMers Fund created by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund to pay for their DACA fees—are actively engaged in the fight for immigration reform. Their commitment to reform reflects the commitment of the larger LGBT community to pass common-sense, compassionate reform that puts our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, including 267,000 LGBT immigrants, on a path to citizenship.

“It was just a few months ago that I lived my life by a simple rule—don’t do anything to attract attention and never mention my immigration status,” said Carla, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico with her parents as a toddler to pursue a better life. “I never could have dreamed that in just six months’ time I would be approved for the DACA program, invited to the White House and meeting the President of the United States.”

Ale expressed her appreciation for the President’s support of comprehensive immigration reform during. “I am eternally thankful to President Obama for creating the DACA program, and I stand in support of the next step—compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform that will allow more LGBT immigrants and all immigrants—to live their lives with Pride,” she said.

The delegation that visited the White House includes:

Alejandra “Ale” Estrada (Las Vegas)      
Ale was three months old when her mother brought her and her sister across the U.S.-Mexico border. From the time she was old enough to talk, her father instructed her to tell people that she was from Nevada, not Mexico. Her mom, dad and older sister are also undocumented, and her parents lived in constant fear of her family being torn apart. Ale, who started a housecleaning business, has struggled with both the challenges presented by her undocumented status and the challenges of being LGBT.

Jose Mendoza (Los Angeles)
Jose excelled in high school, but he couldn’t apply to top colleges. They were too expensive, and because of his undocumented status, he couldn’t apply for financial aid. In 2011, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. His dad worked construction in another state to pay the bills, and Jose became his mother’s primary caregiver, as well as the caregiver of his three younger brothers. Jose’s mother is now in remission, and Jose has enrolled in the nursing program at Santa Monica College, and is on the way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a nurse. Jose is excited to be in Washington, D.C. during Pride month where he can celebrate being both a member of the LGBT community and a DACA recipient.

Luis Liang (San Francisco)
After arriving in the U.S. when he was 14 years old, Luis worked hard in high school and was eventually awarded a full scholarship to U.C. Berkeley in 2009. When he arrived on campus, the university informed him that his undocumented status prohibited him from receiving the publicly funded scholarship. Luis returned to Orange County, where he went to community college and worked two jobs to save money. He started a support organization, the Fullerton College DREAM Team, and learned about various private scholarships available to DREAMers. When he re-enrolled in Berkeley, Luis met other double minorities like himself, LGBT students who were also undocumented. He graduated in May 2012 and, last month, he received his DACA application approval and began interviewing for jobs. He wants to start a nonprofit that will help students from immigrant and low-income families gain access to higher education.

Carla Lopez (San Francisco)
Carla, who recently graduated from the University of California, Davis, came to the U.S. as a toddler, and spent years in constant fear that teachers or friends would find out she was undocumented. Her new DACA status lifted this shadow. “I grew up in a world where immigration raids were taking place at work, school, and even in the ‘safety’ of homes. For me, the time period between 5 and 6 a.m.—when immigration raids are usually conducted in homes—would be filled with much panic and anguish, as I lay awake in my bed—afraid that either my parents or I would be next.”

Media Contact:

NCLR Communications Director Erik Olvera | Office:415.365.1324 | EOlvera@NCLRights.org


Thirty-Five LGBT and HIV Advocacy Groups Mark Pride Month with Joint Statement on HIV/AIDS

June 3, 2013

Executive Directors Urge Broader LGBT Movement to Re-engage in Fight to End the Epidemic

(San Francisco, CA, June 3, 2013)—As the nation marks the opening of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, executive directors from 35 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations from across the United States have released a joint letter  committing themselves and their organizations to re-engaging the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV. While issues like marriage equality and employment protections for LGBT workers have taken center stage, HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community. Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.

“We are at an important crossroads in our fight against HIV,” said National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata. “The evidence behind treatment as prevention, and expansions in health care coverage that will accompany implementation of the Affordable Care Act, have provided a unique opportunity to end this epidemic, which has ravaged our community for more than three decades.  But this will not happen without the full engagement of those most impacted by the disease, and no community has been more heavily affected than the LGBT community.  I am thrilled to be a part of this campaign to re-energize the LGBT response and work together to realize the vision of an AIDS-free generation.”

“As an organization that has been working to combat HIV discrimination since the beginning of the epidemic we are excited to see the LGBT movement re-commit to this work,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal. “Because gay and bisexual men and transgender people are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and because we see the effects of discrimination and laws targeting people with HIV for criminalization it is incredibly important for the LGBT community to step up.”

Said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell: “The LGBT community always has been at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. As the community most impacted in the nation, we are the ones who must step-up and recommit to ending future transmissions. To have a new generation of LGBT young people grow up free from HIV and AIDS will be a fitting legacy to those we have lost to this disease.”

Below is an excerpt from today’s joint letter:

“Over the last 30 years, the [LGBT] community has seen great strides in the movement for full equality. Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s… In the decades since our movement has seen incredible victories… Unfortunately, our community hasn’t maintained the same momentum in our fight against HIV… Each day, more than 80 gay and bisexual men become infected with HIV in the United States… Despite these alarming statistics, which have galvanized our community in the past, the HIV epidemic has seemed to fall by the way side. Many in our community have simply stopped talking about the issue. This must change.”

The entire letter and accompanying video can be viewed online here: www.WetheLGBT.org

Media Contacts:
Erik Olvera, National Center for Lesbian Rights, 415.365.1324, EOlvera@NCLRights.org
Lisa Hardaway, Lambda Legal, 212.809.8585 x.266, LHardaway@LambdaLegal.org
Kyle Murphy, National Minority AIDS Council, 202.803.8027, KMurphy@NMAC.org


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