Immigrant and LGBT youth activists from the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the National Queer Trans Latin@ Alliance are joining together for two actions on Thursday, April 24, supporting the release of undocumented LGBTQ youth in ICE detention.
Over 1000 people have already rallied behind GSA Network board member Mario Vasquez’s petition to President Obama demanding GSA alum Yordy Cancino and all youth in detention be allowed to return home. On Thursday, Vasquez will travel to D.C. to deliver his petition to the White House. That afternoon, students will rally outside of the federal ICE building in Los Angeles to deliver the petition there as well. Supporters can sign the petition here.
“As a GSA leader who migrated to the United States at the age of three, I am far too familiar with the injustice and struggles of queer undocumented youth and their families,” said Vasquez, a Gay-Straight Alliance Network board member and former GSA president from California’s Antelope Valley. “Youth in GSAs work hard to foster a community of acceptance and respect, where everyone, undocumented or not, LGBTQ or not, can feel safe. That’s what Yordy did as a GSA president in Los Angeles, and that’s what GSA youth and alumni across the country are doing with this petition to President Obama. We cannot and will not give up on any of our members.”
Cancino, who has lived in the United States since he was a child, is one of many undocumented youth leading GSA clubs and making schools safer across the country.
Added Ronnie Veliz, an organizer with the Immigrant Youth Coalition: “Yordy is a young queer person of color who proudly served in the city of Los Angeles as the Gay-Straight Alliance president in his high school and graduated as salutatorian. Yordy could continue building his great destiny in LA, but for seven weeks now, ICE has not let him come back home. Yordy is living proof that our immigration system is in dire need of healing and change. I stand with Yordy because as a gay Latino immigrant who arrived at the age of 17 and has contributed daily to California ever since, I believe that immigration policies must improve the lives of millions of men, women, and children, not traumatize us with incarceration, deportation proceedings, and family separation.”
After graduating salutatorian from his Los Angeles high school and being accepted to his dream university, Cancino was unable to afford the $54,000 a year needed to attend. He felt like he had no choice but to go to Mexico, where he has since faced violence and cruelty for being gay. Hoping to return home and escape homophobic violence, Cancino took the courageous step of placing himself into immigration custody and asking for humanitarian parole and asylum. He faced a judge and potential deportation on GLSEN’s Day of Silence, but, following calls from GSA and immigrant activists, ICE has delayed action on Cancino ‘s case and kept him and several other LGBTQ youth in detention in San Diego.