When You're Queer And Undocumented, The DACA Stakes Are Higher | HuffPost
"For a lot of us, going back to our home countries isn’t an option because of our queerness."
When Tony Choi was in high school, his friends would ask him why he didn’t drive. He would evade the question with what he thought was the only plausible defense: He cared deeply about global warming, he told them. Twelve years later, he laughs at his attempt at that moral argument, which was simply a cover-up for the fact that he’s an undocumented immigrant and had no way of getting an ID.
“I learned to really hide myself,” Choi, who’s from Seoul, South Korea, and lives in New York, told HuffPost. “It definitely didn’t feel good. It made me scared. My sister would say, ‘If you stand out too much, they’ll take you away.’”
These memories came back to Choi, now 28, on Tuesday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Donald Trump was nixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, ending protections for some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the country as minors. The program, originally enacted under former President Barack Obama and now in Congress’ hands, shielded young people from deportation and allowed them to work in the country legally.
Besides being undocumented, Choi is also gay. He points out there is more at stake for people who could be forced to go back to a country that isn’t big on LGBTQ rights. He notes that military service is compulsory in South Korea for men ― and the military penal code prohibits consensual same-sex acts.
“For a lot of us, going back to our home countries isn’t an option because of our queerness,” he said. “If I were to go to Korea, I would have to do the two-year mandatory service in the military, and the law prohibits sodomy.”
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