HRC Joined 19 Coalition Partners in Calling Upon DHS to Halt Deportation of DREAMers

Today, HRC’s President Chad Griffin joined the leaders of 19 progressive organizations in calling upon U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly to halt the deportations of Daniela Vargas of Mississippi and Daniel Ramirez of Seattle, as well as any other DREAMers in his custody, and release them back to their families and communities.

LGBTQ people are as diverse as the fabric of this nation. Now, more than ever, we must stand together against hate, division, and fear. And HRC couldn’t be prouder to stand shoulder to shoulder with our coalition partners in support of the immigrant and undocumented communities. Because when you attack any one of us — you attack us all.

Read their letter below or upload it here.

The Honorable John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

March 7, 2017

Dear Secretary Kelly,

We, the undersigned, write to ask that you take action immediately to stop the deportation of all detained immigrant youth, particularly DACA recipients Daniela Vargas and Daniel Ramirez, who could be removed from the country they have called home since a young age, any day now.

We are deeply concerned about the cases of Daniela Vargas, Daniel Ramirez, Edwin Romero, and Josue Romero, four DACA recipients who have been arrested and detained by ICE officials. These enforcement actions appear at odds with President Trump’s assurances that individuals with DACA should not worry about deportation.1 We would like to hear from you directly whether or not the Department of Homeland Security plans to honor President Trump’s statements expressing his support for DACA recipients.

Within days of taking the presidential oath, President Trump promised DACA participants that they “shouldn’t be very worried” and that he was going to “take care of everybody.”2 On February 16, President Trump promised once again that his administration would show “great heart” with DACA children and acknowledged they were some “absolutely, incredible kids.”3 During your confirmation hearing, you stated you would “keep an open mind” with regards to children with DACA. Yet, the recent actions of the Department of Homeland Security indicate that the Department is targeting certain DACA individuals for enforcement.

Only six weeks into the Trump administration, ICE officers have detained at least four DACA recipients. On Wednesday, ICE agents detained Daniela Vargas who was in the process of renewing her DACA application. Even though her father and brother had recently been arrested by ICE officers, she was not afraid to speak out. At a recent press conference she said: “Today my father and brother await deportation, while I continue to fight this battle as a dreamer to help contribute to this country which I feel that is very much my country.” According to press reports, shortly after she made this brave statement, ICE officers took her into custody.4 And, because she entered the country as a young child with her family on the Visa Waiver Program, we are hearing reports that she is being processed for imminent deportation, without due process.

In Seattle, Washington, ICE officers detained Daniel Ramirez, a 23-year old DACA recipient and the father of a three-year-old US citizen.5 Just last week, Edwin Romero, another DACA recipient, was jailed for 15 hours and faced removal over unpaid traffic tickets.6 Josue Romero was detained in Texas before being ultimately released to his parents.7 These recent activities indicate an alarming pattern within the Department of Homeland Security, and have already created a chilling effect in immigrant communities. Taken together, these do not appear to be random actions, but rather they point to a shift in Department policy to target DACA recipients for enforcement actions.

Individuals with DACA contribute to the United States in powerful social and economic ways. They start businesses at twice the rate of the American public as a whole. They are economic consumers who purchase big-ticket items like their first homes and cars. Not only are they making the United States economically stronger, but they also work in large numbers in educational and health services, giving back to the country they love.8 Detaining these individuals not only runs counter to President Trump’s assurances, but these actions also make the economy weaker and waste valuable agency resources on individuals who present no danger to our community.

As Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, immigration enforcement falls under your purview and as a result, the decisions on immigration arrest, detention, and deportation lie with you. We respectfully ask that you immediately halt the deportations of Daniela Vargas, Daniel Ramirez, and any other Dreamers in your custody and release them back to their families and community.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,

Deepak Bhargava, President, Center for Community Change
Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO, PolicyLink
Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
Andrew Friedman, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association
Olivia Golden, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO, Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign
Mary Kay Henry, International President, Service Employees International Union Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center
Cristina Jimenez, Executive Director and Co-Founder, United We Dream
María Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino
Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
Janet Murguía, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza
Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union
Neera Tanden, President and CEO, Center for American Progress
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC 

 

 

 

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Human Rights Campaign Slams Senate Confirmation of Jeff Sessions

Today, HRC condemned the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions as United States Attorney General. Donald Trump’s choice of Jeff Sessions to lead the United States Department of Justice places civil rights and equality in jeopardy.

“It’s deeply disturbing that Jeff Sessions, who has demonstrated a clear animus against so many Americans — including the LGBTQ community, women and people of color — could be charged with running the very system of justice designed to protect them,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “The man now in charge of enforcing hate crimes protections doesn’t even think they should exist — or that LGBTQ people need them. The man now in charge of enforcing civil rights laws is a man who has a history of undermining the rights of African-American voters. Our message to Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions is this: we’re going to fight any attempt to roll back our rights with every resource that we have. We will not give one inch.”

For more, check out HRC’s report: Jeff Sessions: A History of Anti-LGBTQ Actions, which includes details about his extensitve history of anti-LGBTQ lawmaking, including:

Jeff Sessions has repeatedly supported laws that criminalize LGBTQ activity, using discriminatory laws to harrass LGBTQ Alabamans and blasting the Lawrence v. Texas decision, which finally ended the criminalization of same-sex relationships.

Jeff Sessions supported the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and believed it was “pretty effective.”

On marriage, Sessions co-sponsored and voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, saying he would seek “again and again” to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing marriage equality in every state. Of the 2015 Obergefell ruling, Sessions said it  “goes beyond what I consider to be the realm of reality.”

Jeff Sessions has repeatedly opposed hate crimes protections for LGBTQ Americans — even attempting to insert a poison pill amendment to try to sink the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Jeff Sessions has actively attempted to block some of the most effective methods of preventing HIV and other STIs–specifically safer sex education.

Jeff Sessions once tried to terminate the National Endowment for the Arts based on its financial support for a lesbian filmmaker.

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#ThanksObama: 20 Important Moments for LGBTQ Progress

Viewed in full, Barack Obama’s legacy of achievement for LGBTQ people is unmatched by any president in American history. We’ve accomplished landmark victories from the courts to Congress, and through the implementation of executive policies that advance basic fairness.

As we prepare for Obama’s departure from the Oval Office in the coming month, we take a look back at some of the most impactful ways his Administration has advanced the cause of equal rights for all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love.

Here are a few of our favorites:

#1. President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The law gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence by providing the Justice Department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where a perpetrator has selected a victim because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

#2. In an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, Obama endorsed marriage equality. He said after speaking with own LGBTQ staff members, military service members — as well as his wife and daughters, Obama said he “just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

#3. President Obama relegated America’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gay and lesbian service members to the dustbin of history. For 17 years, the law prohibited qualified gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the armed forces and sent a message that discrimination was acceptable. Obama’s DADT repeal meant that gay and lesbian Americans eager to serve their country, but unwilling to compromise who they are as individuals could, for the first time ever, serve openly.

 

#4. The Obama Administration threw its weight behind the movement to ban the harmful, widely debunked practice of “conversion therapy.” Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, spoke out against the practice and a few months later, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a report calling for an end to so-called-“conversion therapy” for minors.

#5. President Obama signed a crucial executive order to protect LGBTQ workers from job discrimination along with a number of other significant policy or regulatory changes. The Obama administration has worked across all cabinet agencies to ensure LGBTQ Americans were fully included in the work of our federal government—resulting in LGBTQ workers, students, renters, immigrants, refugees, service members, patients, families and beyond having the full force of the administration at their backs.

#6. The Obama family celebrated the historic marriage equality ruling by lighting up the White House in rainbow colors. President Obama referred to it as one of his favorite moments of 2015. In press conference Monday President Obama said “I didn’t have the chance to comment on how good the White House looked in rainbow colors … to see people gathered in the evening on a beautiful summer night and to feel whole and to feel accepted and to feel they had a right to love, that was pretty cool. That was a good thing.”

 

A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on Jun 26, 2015 at 6:52pm PDT

 

#7. President Obama appointed the first openly transgender White House staffer, Raffi Freedman-Gurspan as Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, said, “Her commitment to bettering the lives of transgender Americans, particularly transgender people of color and those in poverty, reflects the values of the administration.”

#8. President Obama signed the first-ever federal law providing explicit  LGBTQ non-discrimination protections in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act re-authorization. Time and time again, President Obama has advocated for legislation that explicitly includes protections for LGBTQ and other vulnerable communities who are victims of domestic violence.

#9. Time and time again, President Obama used the bully pulpit to stand up for the LGBTQ community. One of our favorite moments marked the first time a U.S. President referenced bisexual or transgender people in an official State of the Union address. He argued that the LGBTQ individuals deserve the same protections and rights as other Americans.

#10. Obama’s Administration on Aging released important guidance that empowers providers to consider LGBTQ older adults as a population of “greatest social need” — paving the way for increased services that significantly improve the health and well-being of this aging population. This step brought much-needed attention to the unique needs of LGBT older adults, and the urgent actions needed to maintain health and preserve their dignity.

#11. President Obama’s White House endorsed the Equality Act. The legislation would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs, and jury service. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the “bill is historic legislation that would advance the cause of equality for millions of Americans.”

#12. Prior to the Olympic Games in Sochi, President Obama spoke out against Russia’s heinous anti-LGBTQ law. In an interview with Jay Leno on NBC’s The Tonight Show, President Obama condemned a Russian law that criminalizes even the most modest gestures of support for LGBTQ people. The President stated that such laws violate “the basic morality that I think should transcend every country, and I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays, or lesbians, or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.” He later sent a delegation comprised of openly LGBTQ athletes Billie Jean King, Caitlin Cahow and Brian Boitano to attend the games in his place.

#13. The Obama Administration established a federal task force on bullying that created StopBullying.gov. The website offers support and resources for LGBTQ youth and guidance on how to prevent and respond to bullying. The task force hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and funded an “It Gets Better” video to address LGBTQ youth at risk of depression and suicide.

#14. President Obama cheered on landmark Supreme Court cases. He even gave us a congratulatory call from Air Force One. Obama placed a call to HRC President Chad Griffin’s cell phone in order to offer his congratulations to Prop 8 plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo following their decision. The call came as Perry and Stier were speaking to Thomas Roberts live on MSNBC. During the call which lasted two minutes and caller ID labeled “unknown,” the President expressed his thanks to the plaintiffs for their courage and determination in returning marriage equality to California. “We’re proud of you guys, and we’re proud to have this in California! And it’s because of your leadership things are heading the right way. So you should be very proud today.” The Administration had filed a brief in the Perry case arguing for an end to Proposition 8.

#15. President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Prior to the ACA’s passage insurance companies could discriminate against anyone due to a pre-existing condition. LGBTQ people could be turned away for being honest about being LGBTQ. And individuals with HIV and AIDS were particularly vulnerable to insurance industry abuses. Consistent with the goals of the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Affordable Care Act achieved considerable strides in addressing these concerns and made quality, affordable care more accessible for all.

#16. President Obama’s administration has made a record number of appointments of LGBTQ judges and ambassadors. He has also championed more than 250 LGBTQ appointments to full-time and advisory positions in the federal government over the course of hise tenure — an important step for LGBTQ Americans who deserve a voice that speaks to their own at every level of government.

#17. Obama’s Education Department hosted five summits on ways to protect students from bullying and harassment. These events included an LGBT Youth Summit in 2011 and a meeting with transgender students in June 2015. Gatherings in these official capacities were previously unprecedented.

#18. President Obama instructed the Justice Department not to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. Prior to a June 2013 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the DOMA singled out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law. Fortunately, the Court held Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional in Windsor v. United States (2013). Two years later, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court ruled that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional.

#19. The Obama Administration supported HRC’s partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Global Equality Fund. Established in 2011 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the fund brings together governments, corporations, foundations, and civil society organizations to work towards a world where LGBTQ people can live free of violence and discrimination.

#20. President Obama designated the first-ever LGBTQ National Monument at Stonewall. The Stonewall National Monument will pay tribute to the brave individuals who stood up to oppression and helped ignite a fire in a movement to end unfair and unjust discrimination against LGBTQ people. This was a monumental step in the recognition of our community’s contributions to America’s march towards liberty and justice for all.

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