Since 1994, Immigration Equality has been proud to support and represent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and HIV-positive immigrants seeking safety, fair treatment, and freedom.
As the only LGBT organization with a staff of immigration attorneys, Immigration Equality impacts both the individuals we serve and the immigration system as a whole.
Life-Saving | Life-Threatening
In over 80 countries around the world, it is a crime or fundamentally unsafe to be gay or transgender. For far too many people, it is impossible to be out and proud.
For more than 20 years, we have been focused on providing free legal services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive immigrants, including:
- Asylum seekers forced to flee to the U.S. to find safety
- Binational couples and families separated by oceans
- Detainees trapped in immigration jail facilities
- Undocumented LGBT people living in the shadows inside the U.S.
Our Core Value: Access to Counsel
We know that LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants are an especially vulnerable population.
Every year we receive thousands of legal questions from LGBT and HIV-positive people forced to flee violence and persecution based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, or HIV status.
Unlike in the U.S. criminal justice system, representation is not provided to individuals in immigration court. Imagine that you don’t speak any English and that you’ve just arrived in the United States for the very first time; you’re facing a trained government attorney arguing zealously for your deportation. The deck is stacked against you from the start.
At Immigration Equality, we fundamentally believe in access to counsel.
Our Legal Team = In-House + Pro Bono Network
Our in-house attorneys coupled with our remarkable pro-bono network, boast an incredible 99% win rate. We win not because we take the “easy” cases; we win so often because Immigration Equality’s legal team is comprised of fierce advocates who are well schooled in how to successfully navigate the very particular intersection of LGBT and immigration law.
Immigration Equality attorneys are award winning. In 2014 alone we were the proud recipients of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Arthur Helton Memorial Human Rights Award, the CLASSY Human Rights and Social Justice Award, and more than one of our attorneys is featured on the list of best lawyers under 40 by the LGBT Bar Association.
More and more LGBT people are calling for help each year, consequently we are always working to expand our pro bono network. Each case has a life-altering impact.
“Me dieron apoyo cuando acudí a ellos, y gracias a su ayuda estoy legal en los Estados Unidos,” Evelyn, El Salvador, granted asylum October 2012
We have recruited, trained and are proud to support an incredible pro bono network which includes hundreds of attorneys from more than 60 top law firms.
Changing the System
When we notice a pattern in what our clients are experiencing, we fight to change policies and hold decision makers accountable. We write guidelines, advocate for reform, and demand fair treatment for all LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants. Through our advocacy arm (Immigration Equality Action Fund), we organize, publicize, and lobby the government to treat LGBT individuals and their families fairly.
Policy to Practice
Going through the immigration process in the United States takes months, often years. During that time, LGBT people will encounter many different decision makers who have huge amounts of control over their application and how they are treated.
We know that if any one of those judges, asylum officers, or detention guards expresses anti-gay or anti-transgender bias, our clients could get hurt. Consequently, Immigration Equality trains decision makers and works to hold them accountable because although good policies are a great first step, fair and consistent practice of those policies impacts the lives of LGBT immigrants every day.