Temporary Protective Status symposium focuses on pathways to permanent residency for LGBTQ+ individuals

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In an auditorium lined with colorful, political artwork on the walls, a moving scene from a play in Spanish depicts a mother of two daughters speaking with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, agents who show up at her doorstep with an unsigned warrant, claiming to be “police.”

The play was performed by the Temporary Protective Status, or TPS, Committee for Permanent Residency, before a crowd of about 70 people to showcase the ways of conversing with ICE and knowing your rights as a TPS recipient.

The TPS committee for Permanent Residency held a symposium for TPS recipients, geared toward LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, at the La Peña Cultural Center on Sunday. The symposium hosted tables from several Bay Area organizations and organized group discussions focused on community work, inclusivity and LGBTQ+ advocacy.

“I think this is about the families, and they’re being torn apart, and addressing what it means to be queer in a family,” said Joshua Delfin, board chair of Somos Familia, an organization that works with Latinx families with LGBTQ+ youth. “We know that as a LGBTQ+ organization to not just support, but also bring in that intersectional piece because families are so diverse.”

The speakers included Claudia Lainez, a TPS recipient and a member of the TPS Committee for Permanent Residency and Ramon Cardona, the director of Centro Latino Cuzcatlan, an immigration service center.

Fiona Meier, a member of the TPS committee, said one difference between TPS recipients and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients is that TPS recipients were legally brought here under their knowledge due to war, conflict or natural disasters.

Russ Wood and Meier, members of the TPS committee, said both DACA and TPS recipients are not provided a path to citizenship.

The symposium focused on the various pathways from TPS to permanent residency, such as U visa, the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, and advance parole, Lainez said. She added that U visa is a pathway to permanent residency for those who are victims of a crime, while VAWA is for victims of domestic violence.

Advance parole was offered as a protective measure for TPS recipients to apply to so that they could travel and be guaranteed the ability to return to America, said Arlette Jácome, an alumna and co-founder of Central Americans for Empowerment on campus and a TPS committee member.

Mariano Guzman, an attendee of the event said he liked the symposium because it helped him meet other people, share information about the TPS community and learn more about the current immigration situation.

“I think our symposium was very intentional about putting LGBTQ+ voices at the forefront. The TPS campaign can be very generational. It’s easy for LGBTQ+ communities to fall through the cracks,” Jácome said. “I hope that (attendees) felt empowered to fight for their right to be in this country, to have permanent residency, to be involved and open to various places within the movement.”

Contact Mariam Zagub at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MZagub.