This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)
Since 2016, the AsylumConnect catalog has helped more than 10,000 unique users find verified resources during the U.S. LGBTQ asylum process, and the number continues to grow.
NEW YORK, NY (March 13, 2019) – AsylumConnect, a tech nonprofit that offers the first resource website and app designed specifically for LGBTQ asylum, has made resources available to those LGBTQ asylum seekers traveling through Mexico and waiting at the Mexican border in the wake of President Trump’s “Migrant Protection Protocols.”
On December 20, 2018, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security announced that the U.S. will require people who seek asylum at the southwest border to wait in Mexico while the U.S. immigration courts decide their asylum cases. This policy applies to people arriving in or entering the U.S. from Mexico – illegally or without proper documentation.
This is a fundamental shift in asylum policy, which previously in U.S. law was a legal protection claimed while on American soil. Instead, people are being forced to wait at underfunded and overcrowded shelters in cities like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. According to a recent Vox article, these are “cities that aren’t necessarily safe for anyone right now, and where Central American migrants can be particularly vulnerable.”
New instructions were recently added to the policy that will provide an exemption to pregnant women, LGBT migrants and people suffering medical issues. These individuals will not be sent to Mexico to wait. However, these exemptions are difficult to obtain as it puts the burden on asylum seekers to offer the information rather than on agents to ask, and LGBTQ identity remains a private and sensitive subject.
“AsylumConnect strongly condemns the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ as illegal, immoral and dangerous for LGBTQ Central Americans seeking safety,” says Katie Sgarro, co-founder and president of AsylumConnect. “We are making every effort to ensure that our lifesaving technology reaches all LGBTQ asylum seekers, including those traveling through Mexico on their way to the U.S. or waiting at the Mexican border.”
The AsylumConnect catalog currently helps LGBTQ asylum seekers find safe resources during the lengthy and complex U.S. asylum process. LGBTQ asylum seekers use the free resource website and app to meet their needs in housing, legal, food, medical, mental health, social support, employment, education, and more. Lawyers and nonprofits also a use the app to find verified resource referrals for their LGBTQ clients. The organization has created a specific page on their website to help LGBTQ asylum seekers traveling through Mexico (and the lawyers and nonprofits supporting them) to find local LGBTQ-friendly resources. It’s available in Spanish and English.
“Despite the Trump administration’s hostile immigration policies, there has been a sharp rise in LGBTQ Central Americans traveling through Mexico in hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S. Through expanding our technology to include local LGBTQ-friendly resources in Mexico, we can support LGBTQ Central Americans at every step in their asylum journey,” adds Sgarro.
Without the AsylumConnect resource catalog’s information on where it is safe to go for help, LGBTQ asylum seekers face increased risk of detention, homelessness, anti-LGBTQ providers, or no option besides giving up on their asylum claim and facing deportation to their dangerous home country.
AsylumConnect is currently listed as a LGBTQ resettlement resource by numerous organizations and websites, including: Seattle.gov’s Office of Immigrants & Refugee Affairs, Gay City, The Trevor Project, Rainbow Railroad, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For more information, visit www.asylumconnect.org.
AsylumConnect, a tech nonprofit, is the first resource website and app designed specifically for LGBTQ asylum. The AsylumConnect catalog currently helps LGBTQ asylum seekers find verified resources during the U.S. asylum process. Lawyers and nonprofits also use AsylumConnect to find verified resource referrals for LGBTQ clients. For more information, visit www.asylumconnect.org.