Since 1994, Immigration Equality has been proud to advocate for and represent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), and HIV-positive immigrants seeking safety, fair treatment, and freedom.
Immigration Equality’s work impacts both the individuals we serve and the immigration system as a whole.
In over 80 countries around the world, it is a crime or fundamentally unsafe to be LGBTQ. 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 direct legal services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-positive immigrants, including:
- Asylum seekers forced to flee to the U.S. to find safety
- LGBTQ binational couples and families separated by oceans
- Detained people trapped in immigration jails
- Undocumented LGBTQ people living in the shadows inside the U.S.
Our Core Value: Access to Counsel
We know that LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants are an especially vulnerable population. Every year we receive thousands of legal questions from LGBTQ and HIV-positive people forced to flee violence and persecution based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, or HIV status, and we answer each and every one.
Unlike in the U.S. criminal justice system, representation is not guaranteed to individuals in immigration court. Imagine that you’ve just arrived in the United States for the very first time and you’re facing a trained government attorney arguing zealously for your deportation. The deck is stacked against you from the start.
Our Legal Team = In-House + Pro Bono Network
At Immigration Equality, we fundamentally believe in access to counsel. That is why we provide hundreds of immigrants with free representation each year. We do this by partnering with over 100 of the top law firms across the U.S., who donate their legal services pro bono. In 2017, we received nearly $32 million in donated legal services from pro bono partners.
This is truly life-saving, because there are nearly 80 countries around the world where it is a crime to be LGBTQ, with consequences including jail time and, in some cases, the death penalty. For this reason, we fight to obtain asylum in the United States for LGBTQ and HIV-positive refugees. Every year, our caseload grows. Nevertheless, we maintain a remarkable 99% win rate.
Changing the System
At Immigration Equality, we advocate for policy reform and demand fair treatment for all LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants. We do so by:
- lobbying Congress to pass progressive bills like the Reuniting Families Act, which would allow family recognition for LGBTQ couples fleeing countries where they had no access to marriage equality;
- advocating against discriminatory administrative policies, like the requirement by the Centers for Disease Control that people living with HIV undergo unnecessary, lengthy, and unsafe tests abroad before obtaining a green card; and
- training all of the new asylum officers in the United States on LGBTQ and HIV immigration law.