For our clients, being granted asylum means freedom. They no longer have to live each day wondering whether they’ll be picked up by immigration enforcement and thrown in detention under unsafe conditions. Nor do they have to fear being deported back to a country to face abuse and violence. They can begin to build new lives.
Sometimes, these lives are new chapters of the ones they were forced to leave behind due to homophobia or transphobia. Other times, they’re able to dream even bigger. Bosnian-Serbian asylum winner Sanel, who headed a bank’s communications department in Serbia, proudly told us, “My future here is going to be really bright. After I was granted asylum, I realized that anything is possible. So I decided to pursue my dreams, and I am going on Broadway.”
Every day, as we work so that our clients will have these beautiful opportunities, we witness the barriers some of them still face – learning a new language, encountering racism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Having emerged from the shadow of being undocumented, many still live in a second shadow, facing employment discrimination because of their identity. 90% of trans* people experienced harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job or were forced to hide their identity to avoid it. 26% lost a job due to transphobia.
This May Day, International Workers’ Day, Immigration Equality stands with LGBT immigrants pursuing opportunity and a safe place to call home.
Marco A. Quiroga
National Field Officer, Immigration Equality