More than 40 organizations, including GLAAD, signed a March 10 letter asking Congress to consider the negative human, safety, environmental and financial impacts that an expansion of the existing border wall would have on civic life in the border region and beyond.
The Center for American Progress, the Transgender Law Center, Immigration Equality, United We Dream and other groups have released reports, videos and other resources that reporters can use to educate their readers and viewers about immigration. Yet, often journalists still inaccurately report on immigration and on the border region.
Key issues that go under-reported:
- Black immigrants are disproportionately represented in detention and deportations,
- There are an estimated 267,000 undocumented LGBTQ people, some with families or partners that are also undocumented,
- LGBTQ asylum seekers, eligible for asylum are often disproportionately represented in detention which negatively impacts their asylum cases
- Immigration detention puts transgender immigrant women at risk for abuse
- Many prominent leaders of the immigration rights movement (including, DREAMers, brought to the United States by immigrant parents when young) are LGBTQ.
- For-profit immigration detention centers often are not safe for any detainees, including transgender people.
- False narratives mischaracterize immigrants as criminals because of their lack of status and the true contributions of immigrants to the economy and civic life are under-reported.
“The false narrative of a violent and insecure border region has long been used to justify and advance anti-immigrant, anti-border, pro-criminalization, and anti-environment legislation that has negative economic and civil rights impacts on border communities,” the letter states. In fact, border cities are some of the safest in the country.
Unfortunately, journalists still do not report on immigration fairly or accurately. GLAAD, Define American and others have addressed the need for the media to stop using stigmatizing words such as “illegal” and “alien” when referring to someone who is not a citizen.
LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the oldest Latinx civil rights organizations in the United States spearheaded the letter as a response to an increase in deportations, raids and detentions. Notable cases include that of a transgender woman, Ms. Gonzalez in El Paso, detained leaving a court hearing where she was obtaining a restraining order against her abuser; DREAMer, Daniela Vargas, whose case gained national attention when ICE detained her after she participated in a press conference to share her testimonyabout the anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions of the current administration. Ms. Gonzalez is still in detention, but outlets report that ICE released Daniela Vargas recently although her case has not been resolved.
Activists have been standing up to anti-immigrant actions and rhetoric through powerful art (like queer immigrant artist Julio Salgado’s work and Culture Strike’s work) as well as through, new platforms like Neta, a site created by activists on the border, some who are LGBTQ to disrupt stereotypical representations of their region and organized action. The activists have had some successes, for example recently the Santa Ana city council in Orange County voted to terminate the contract between ICE (Immigration Control and Enforcement) and its city jail, potentially getting the city out of the business of immigration detention. Many of the activists involved in getting the city to understand how harmful its involvement in for-profit immigration detention is to the city are LGBTQ, including Jennicet Gutierrez, a transgender woman who advocated for her sisters in immigration detention during an LGBTQ reception at the White House.
Because LGBTQ rights are immigrant rights and immigrant rights are LGBTQ rights, GLAAD will continue to collaborate with pro-immigrant organizations to hold the media accountable and to amplify the stories of LGBTQ immigrants as advocates continue to push back against anti-immigrant actions and for justice for immigrants, including those who are LGBTQ.