A minority group, which officially exists the recent 15 years, was the result of collaboration between LGBT and immigrant activists. One of the representatives of UndocuQueer movement and activist in the field of social art, Julio Salgado, put into life a project in their support.  

How and when the movement arose

According to Prena Lal, a writer from “The Huffington Post”, the history of undocumented queer activism goes back to 2001. That year, Tania Unzueta, a queer undocumented woman from Chicago, “was scheduled to testify for the federal DREAM Act on Capitol Hill”. But the hearing never happened because of the 9/11 attacks. The “DREAM Act” is an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act” and is an American legislative proposal for qualifying minors in the US, that grants conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency. The original version of “DREAM Act” was introduced on April 25th by Luis Gutiérrez, a Democrat from Illinois, as the “Immigrant Children’s Educational Advancement and Dropout Prevention Act of 2001”. This bill, if accepted, would have allowed illegal immigrant students to first apply to be protected from deportation and then receive the lawful permanent residency if met the criteria.

Being reintroduced several times “DREAM Act” has never been accepted. However, the general activism for undocumented queer immigrants forced Barack Obama to support certain criteria from the “DREAM Act”. In 2012 the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) began accepting applications under the Obama administration’s new program DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Nevertheless, the DACA immigration policy was rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017.

In 2008, after the new version of federal “DREAM Act” failed to pass, an organization “DreamActivist” was founded. Since then more that 300,000 activists from the whole country have joined the society. This community supports the rights of young immigrants, who have grown in the US and have spent all their childhood in America.The organization, as it is claimed on the web-page, also has  an online community, from where the parents of young people can fight against the deportation. The DreamActivist movement does not specialize on homo- or heterosexual youth. However, some time ago within the organization there was created an “LGBT Student Caucus”. It actively recruited undocumented queer youth, building intersections between the LGBT and immigrant communities. The self-identification for the juveniles is “double”-severe in the modern society, as they associate themselves with two minority groups: people of non-traditional sexual orientation and also the incomers to the foreign country.

That is the time, approximately in 2008, when the interaction between those two groups started. There is a growing number of studies about the social phenomenon, for example by such academics as Acosta, Cananday, Chávez, Somerville and others. As it is claimed in the dissertation of Jesus Cisneros, a scientist from Arizona State University, the growing social awareness about this topic is linked with the “limitations to legal U.S. entry, which are replete with deep heteronormative assumptions“. Indeed, the “DREAM Act”, which has never been realized, had such a criteria for incomers submitting for conditional/permanent residency: “Demonstrate good moral character”. This phrase, being evidently ambiguous, limited the rights of LGBT immigrants to the US. Moreover, as it is claimed by journalist from “The Huffington Post” Ryan Campbell: “…the issues that they [the undocuqueers] face as a minority in either community is often compounded by issues affecting the other community: they are a minority within a minority within a minority often, being Latino, LGBT AND undocumented”.

The organization, which works nowadays with queer immigrants is called “QUIP”. The abbreviation stands for “The Queer Undocumented Immigration Project” which is a program of “United We dream”. They work on rising the consciousness through promoting collaboration between LGBT and immigration communities. Moreover, the National Advisory Council supports the activism of QUIP. That is, maybe, one of the main projects for now, reflexing the interaction between the minorities.

One of the UndocuQueer activist

There are a lot of art projects within the UndocuQueer movement and one of the most famous is the collection of illustrations by Julio Salgado. He is a Mexican-born artist, grown up in Long Beach, California. Saldago became a well-known activist within the “DREAM Act” movement.

“I am Undocu-Queer!” is a Digital Mural Project, a billboard, which was made in collaboration between Saldago and many undocumented queer activists and organizers across the US. “The main objective of this billboard is to call attention to the intersectionality of the immigrant and LGBTQ communities”, – as “Galeria de la raza” claims. The project was presented in summer 2013 and lasted from June to July. One could have seen it in San Francisco’s La Misión neighborhood. The opening billboard of the project represents six persons, each of them having a quote either in Spanish or in English on the T-shirt in support of “the intersection of the undocumented and LGBT community”.

The artist himself says about the project in the interview to “The Huffington Post”: “There’s homophobia within our communities so what we need to do, the undocumented people who are also queer, [is] call out and say ‘hey if you’re talking about social justice and you’re trying to talk about treating everybody equally, we need to start with ourselves. How is our homophobia affecting certain things.’ And likewise when you’re in queer spaces, a lot of the times [what’s said is] we should focus on gay marriage, we should focus on joining the military but we don’t focus on immigration”. That seems to be the major aim in Salgado’s project: to talk about difficulties with immigration for people of non-traditional sexual orientation. In other words, within a non-customary, non-typical topic.

It is not the only project realized by Salgado. Since 2010 he has co-founded the collaborative project “DreamersAdrift” and received recognition from the public for comically portraying the undocuqueers in video series titled “Undocumented and Awkward”.

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