Living in Dual Shadows: LGBT Undocumented Immigrants

Crosby Burns, Ann Garcia and Philip E. Wolgin
Date of Publication: 
March, 2013
Source Organization: 
Center for American Progress

Living in Dual Shadows: LGBT Undocumented Immigrants builds upon the first-of-its-kind findings of the Williams Institute at UCLA—which researches sexual-orientation and gender-identity law and public policy—that estimates that there are at least 267,000 LGBT-identified individuals among the adult population of undocumented immigrants. This report by the Center for American Progress unpacks the demographic characteristics of the population and details the disparities and hardships that make the LGBT-identified members of the undocumented population among the most vulnerable members of the society. These issues include employment insecurities, wage and income disparities, and health inequities. The report further examines the issues facing LGBT families including the inability to sponsor a same-sex spouse or partner through family-based immigration preferences. It also addresses the challenges that LGBT immigrants encounter when they come into contact with the immigration-enforcement system including how U.S. detention centers fail to provide an adequate level of safety and care to LGBT immigrants—including to those living with HIV. 

To alleviate the burdens facing undocumented immigrants who identify as LGBT and their families, the authors recommend that comprehensive immigration reform be passed that includes a path to citizenship, ends discrimination against binational same-sex couples, fixes and protects family-based migration and grants young people access to education and citizenship. They also advocate for the repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act as well as changes to detention and asylum standards to address the issues facing the LGBT-identified undocumented community. 

Get more from the Center for American Progress

Click here for a web version of the report or a downloadable PDF of the summary. 


Burns, C., Garcia, A., Wolgin, P. E. (2013). Living in Dual Shadows: LGBT Undocumented Immigrants. Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress. Retrieved from