September 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Whitman-Walker receives $85,000 grant for immigrant legal services
sanctuary city, LGBT homeless, gay news, Washington Blade, Immigrant Justice Legal Services

‘Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary city, and we are committed to protecting the rights and humanity of all our residents,’ said Mayor Muriel Bowser. (Photo by Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Sept. 7 that Whitman-Walker Health is one of 15 community-based organizations to receive city grant funding to provide legal services for immigrants under the city’s recently launched Immigrant Justice Legal Services program.

Amy Nelson, director of Whitman-Walker’s Legal Services Program, said the grant will provide the program an award of $85,000 for fiscal year 2019 “to provide direct legal services to immigrants seeking asylum in the United States as a result of the persecution and violence they endured in their home countries on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Nelson said the grant will enable Whitman-Walker to expand its capacity to serve more foreign nationals who would otherwise not be able to afford legal counsel.

“Navigating the U.S. immigration maze is nearly impossible without an attorney, and our clients are especially vulnerable having already survived extreme violence in their home country because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Nelson told the Washington Blade.

“We appreciate the mayor’s commitment to the immigrant community through these grant funds to ensure that more families are connected to essential immigrant assistance,” Nelson said.

“Washington, D.C. is a sanctuary city, and we are committed to protecting the rights and humanity of all our residents,” Bowser said in a statement announcing the grant awards. “Through the Immigrant Justice Legal Services grant program, we are able to assist hundreds of residents each year with a wide range of issues, expand the reach of important community partners, and advance D.C. values,” Bowser said.

Whitman-Walker Health is the city’s largest private community-based health organization providing HIV services, with a special outreach to the LGBT community. Its Legal Services Program has provided legal assistance to the LGBT and other minority communities on a wide range of issues, including political asylum, naturalization, and refugee matters.

Human Rights First, another one of the organizations receiving a D.C. legal services grant for 2019, also provides services to LGBT immigrants in D.C. and other locations.

Casa Ruby, the D.C. LGBT community services center that has a special outreach to transgender people, provides a wide range of non-legal services for LGBT immigrants. It was not among the groups receiving one of the D.C. legal services grants for 2019 but it recently received a grant for HIV prevention services from the city’s Department of Health.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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