November 9, 2018 at 8:07 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
LGBT groups sharply criticize Trump asylum executive order

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LGBT advocacy groups have sharply criticized President Trump over his executive order that prevents migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they enter the country illegally from Mexico. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

LGBT advocacy groups have sharply criticized President Trump over his executive order that prevents migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. if they enter the country illegally from Mexico.

National Center for Lesbian Rights Policy Counsel Tyrone Hanley said the policy is “not only cruel, but will be a death sentence for many in our community.”

“President Trump’s plan would not only unlawfully limit asylum but would rewrite the character of our nation,” said Hanley. “For generations, America has been a refuge for those fleeing persecution in their home countries.”

“For many, asylum is a life and death matter,” added Hanley, noting the National Center for Lesbian Rights has worked with hundreds of asylum seekers who have faced violence in their countries of origin because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

“President Trump in effect ordered violence and a possible death sentence against thousands of people seeking safety in the U.S.,” said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi in a statement. “This unconscionable rule severely limits the opportunity for people, no matter their circumstances, to apply for asylum, meaning that LGBT people and other communities who fear persecution and violence — groups that our own courts have already identified as eligible for asylum — will no longer have the opportunity to apply solely based on where and how they enter.”

The Human Rights Campaign on Friday said in a Tweet the Trump administration’s “cruelty towards individuals seeking refuge through legal channels is a retreat of our nation’s most fundamental values.”

“The humanitarian consequences will be severe,” it added.

Trump signed the executive order three days after the midterm elections.

Thousands of migrants who are trying to reach the U.S. left the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Oct. 14. Trump in the weeks leading up to the midterms stoked fear over the caravan among his supporters, even though the migrants were hundreds of miles south of the U.S. border.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights on Friday filed a lawsuit against Trump’s executive order in federal court in San Francisco.

“President Trump’s new asylum ban is illegal,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Neither the president nor his cabinet secretaries can override the clear commands of U.S. law, but that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. This action undermines the rule of law and is a great moral failure because it tries to take away protections from individuals facing persecution — it’s the opposite of what America should stand for.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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