Biden’s day 1 initiatives impact almost 300,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants in the United States

Today, President Biden is expected to release a plan to overhaul immigration laws in the U.S. The plan provides an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status, an expansion of refugee admissions, and a focus on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America. In addition, recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the temporary protected status (TPS) program would be able to apply for a green card immediately. Further, undocumented immigrants will once again be counted in the U.S. Census.

According to Williams Institute analysis, there are approximately 289,700 undocumented LGBT adult immigrants in the U.S. An estimated 76% are Latino/a. There are 81,000 LGBT Dreamers in the U.S., and 39,000 of them have participated in DACA.

“Undocumented LGBT people are a particularly vulnerable population,” said Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Having a pathway to citizenship will increase access to jobs that pay livable wages and offer paid leave and other benefits necessary to ensure health and well-being for undocumented immigrants and their families.”

President Biden is also expected to release an executive order rescinding the travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries. An estimated 135,000 Muslim LGBT people live in the U.S., according to forthcoming research from the Williams Institute. The majority (58%) were born in other countries.

The travel ban created additional barriers to entry for LGBT people fleeing from violence in 13 countries impacted by the ban. Williams Institute research shows that LGBT people face hostile environments in many of these countries. An analysis of social acceptance of LGBT people in 174 countries found that most of the countries in the travel ban ranked in the bottom half in terms of acceptance, including Iran (ranked 164), Nigeria (146), Kyrgyzstan (140), Sudan (132), Tanzania (126), Libya (108), and Yemen (104). In four of these countries (Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Yemen) homosexuality can be punished with the death penalty in all or parts of the country. Three other countries ranked in the top half—Myanmar (69), Syria (48), Venezuela (39)—and data were not available for the remaining countries.

Key findings from Williams Institute research include

  • There are an estimated 289,700 LGBT-identified individuals in the U.S., representing approximately 3.0% of all undocumented adults in the country.
  • Relative to all undocumented immigrants, LGBT undocumented immigrants are more likely to be male and younger.
  • Nearly half (48%) of LGBT undocumented immigrants are estimated to be under age 30 compared to 22% of all undocumented immigrants.
  • 76% of undocumented LGBT adults are Latino/a, 14% are Asian or Pacific Islander, 7% are white and 3% are Black.
  • An estimated 135,000 Muslim LGBT people live in the U.S., including about 25,700 born in Iran, Iraq, and Syria, countries subject to a travel ban during the Trump administration.
  • There are an estimated 81,000 LGBT Dreamers in the U.S., including 39,000 who have participated in DACA.
  • The U.S. currently provides TPS to foreign nationals from 10 countries. Social acceptance of LGBT people ranked low in many of them: El Salvador (ranked 50), Haiti (106), Honduras (57), Nepal (10), Nicaragua (42), Somalia, South Sudan (161), Sudan (132), Syria (48), and Yemen (104).
January 20, 2021

Media Contact: Rachel Dowd
Office: 310-206-8982

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