Stacks of paper, piles of white envelopes and 12 black pens sat atop the glossy wooden table in the Canterbury House on Tuesday evening. Most went untouched.
One stack of paper was clean but ready to be marked up with the handwriting of IU community members. Another stack offered information on policy points from the Human Rights Campaign about LGBT immigrants and asylum applicants. A third stack of smaller slips listed the district offices of Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana; Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana; and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-9th District.
The Canterbury House offered IU community members the ability to write letters to congressional representatives about possible ways to reform LGBT immigration policies.
“It’s an intersection of two populations that are definitely marginalized in society,” organizer Samuel Young said.
Young, a senior studying English and religious studies, said when it comes to immigration issues, LGBT people are especially vulnerable to hardships within the system.
According to the sheet at the event with information from the Human Rights Campaign, individuals have to apply within a year of arriving in the United States for asylum. However, this filing deadline affects LGBT applicants who may be unaware of their eligibility to apply.
Even if people do make the one-year filing deadline, many individuals end up in the backlog of the system for years, Young said.
He explained many undocumented LGBT individuals or asylum applicants end up in detention centers where they are at a higher risk for physical or sexual abuse and harassment. Young said sometimes, in order to remove safety risks, LGBT individuals are placed in solitary confinement where they face more psychological hardships.
“It’s a really inhumane practice,” he said.
Many of these individuals have difficulty accessing health care services like HIV and AIDS treatments or other necessary hormone treatments, according to the information sheet.
Young said it was important to write letters to government officials to enact some changes in policy, including getting rid of the one-year filing deadline.
This is what Young said he wrote about in his letter.
The Rev. Linda Johnson said writing letters was an important event for the Canterbury House to put on because social justice is important in the Episcopal Church. Supporting everyone in society is vital, she said.
“We teach by doing,” she said. “This is an opportunity to do something significant and the ability to teach people by sitting at a table, writing some letters and eating some food.”
Though Young and Johnson were the only people to end up writing letters at the event, there is another letter writing event from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Canterbury House. Young said they would be writing to LGBT detainees to send them support and encouragement.
He said the lack of turnout for the event Tuesday was disappointing but said letter writing an important act which gives people the ability to have a larger effect on the world and others’ lives.
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