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Immigration News: Bernie Sanders Vows to End Detention of Undocumented LGBT Immigrants

First Posted: Dec 09, 2015 02:08 PM EST
Sanders Vows to End Detention of Undocumented LGBT Immigrants

Photo : Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

If he were to move into the White House come 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., would end the detention of undocumented gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) immigrants as part of his wider immigration policy, the Democratic presidential candidate pledged on Monday.

The Vermont senator affirmed his stance during a Washington discussion on his "Families First" immigration plan, which would do away with the detention of families whose members do not have legal resident status in the U.S.

Catalina Velasquez, a transgender woman who is undocumented but is protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, asked the White House hopeful about his views on LGBT immigrants. The founder of a strategic policy, communications and diversity firm decried that these migrants face higher rates of sexual assault than other detainees, are often forced into segregated housing, and have been denied gender-affirming medication.

"You have my pledge right now as somebody who believes in a society in which we must end all forms of discrimination that that will become part of our policy," Sanders replied. "We're here to discuss how our country comes together to, among other things, make sure that 11 million undocumented people in our country no longer have to live in the shadows, no longer have to live in fear, but can live in security and dignity."

Sanders even went so far as to tell Velasquez that he was sorry that LGBT issues had not been spelled out specifically in his "Families First" agenda.

"I apologize for not having dealt with that in our list of particulars," he said. "But the issue that you raise is something that I'm more than conscious about and that is the discrimination against transgenders and the LGBT community."

Sanders' plan, which the senator unveiled this month, includes increased access to legal counsel for those detained. It also requires U.S. Border Patrol personnel to wear body cameras to record interactions with citizens and immigrants, the Chicago Sun-Time recalled.

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