LGBT Immigration Group Wins Record Number of Cases
A national organization that helps LGBT and HIV-infected immigrants seeking asylum in the United States says it won a record number of cases last year.
Immigration Equality announced on Monday that its in-house and pro bono legal teams together came out on top in 101 of its cases. About 40 percent of their clients were from the Caribbean, with another 25 percent coming from Central and South America.
The U.S. has recognized persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity as a reason for seeking asylum since the 1990s.
Immigration Equality Legal Director Victoria Neilson tells OutQ News that her group fields about 1500 inquiries EVERY year. She says that while they encounter a wide-range of people looking for help, most are younger gay Jamaican men.
Neilson says that the organization has more cases now than when she joined the team seven years ago, with about 200 currently open. Though she says the number may eventually hit a plateau, their job is far from over.
NEILSON: “What would make the asylum caseload drop off completely would be if there were true human rights and equal rights for LGBT people around the world, and unfortunately, I think that we are still a long way away from that.”
But Neilson says her group is excited to know that they’ve won more and more cases since strengthening its pro bono team. She says it shows there’s a “great need” for the LGBT asylum-seeking community.