Monday, September 29, 2014

More news stories on LGBT asylum (especially from Russia) appear; will there ever be a "sponorship" issue?

The Washington Blade is running a series of stories of LGBT people seeking political asylum in the United States.  On Sept. 26, it ran a story about Andrew Nasonov, who was kidnapped by “police” after attending a demonstration in Voronezh, Russia.  The story by Michael K. Lavers here. The story has a photo of a sign, “Ask me why in Russia they want to kill me”.  Nasonov arrived with his boyfriend July 2. 

On August 6, Lavers had reported asylum granted for a doctor, George Budny.  The former manager of the now closed Moscow gay disco the Central Station, Arkady Gyngazov, was reported to be seeking asylum in January.  And US Citizenship and Immigration Services granted asylum to Ugandan activist, John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere, as demonstrated by this letter.  
USCIS explains the requirements in its explanation of Form I-589, linked from this page.  Asylum can be sought based on persecution, either by government or by inability or disinclination of government to control criminal activity (as in Russia), based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group (which would logically include LGBT).  USCIS has an important other page, called “Benefits and Responsibilities of Asylees” which has information about green cards, work, and financial assistance, here.   USCIS does not appear to imply that asylum (getting it or staying in the country) would depend on securing financial support or housing from others first.  Organizations have been formed in some cities, like Chicago, to provide such support, however. 

Spectrum HR has a “40 in 14” page with individual stories here. There is an LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, which seems to sponsor fund raisers, here
As I’ve written here before, in 1980 there was a period where some LGBT Cuban refugees came into the US by boat, and there was considerable pressure within the LGBT community in some southern states (including Dallas, TX, where I lived at the time) to provide housing for them.  This led to the founding of a shelter called “Safe Place” for a while in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.   That sort of call has not become evident to my knowledge this time however, despite asylum requests from Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and other authoritarian or backward countries.
The biggest concern would occur if situations were to arise where refugees were to be returned to dangerous circumstances if sponsors who could house or support them weren’t found.   That notion might have occurred with the child migrant crisis from Central America, too, but it has calmed down and the Obama Administration has discouraged that sort of interpretation since it could lead to more illegal migration.
I have not read or heard anywhere that this kind of situation has developed, as it apparently had in 1980.  For example, I am in a “house” and am retired: should I step up and do anything?  This is much harder to do than it sounds – and maybe dangerous and double-edged for various reasons – so then it becomes as matter of heart and interest, perhaps.  Certainly, some of the pressure on me over some past years to drop “amateur journalism” and learn to hock services (like selling life insurance or preparing taxes, in retirement) anticipates the idea of being capable (in retirement) of stepping up to accept dependents to respond to a crisis like this.  But I really don’t know if there is a crisis that ‘ordinary people” or some possible means must respond to. 

Constructive comments and definitive information are welcome. 
Picture: Virginia Pride, Saturday  Sept. 27

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