Tom Steyer, the businessman-turned-Democratic presidential candidate, was baffled by his own comments he previously made on protecting the health of LGBTQ asylum seekers when asked to flesh out his plan during a New York Times interview.
Asked to elaborate on his comments, which he made during the CNN Democratic Town Hall on LGBTQ issues, Steyer professed to have no knowledge of them, responding “I did?” when told he said them.
“Could you remind me what I said?” Steyer added.
When told he said he’d increase oversight of health care for LGBTQ asylum seekers, Steyer replied, “I’m not sure I know what that means,” prompting the New York Times to respond, “OK, So then I guess you cannot elaborate on that.”
The conditions in immigration detention for asylum seekers, including LGBTQ immigrants seeking to escape persecution based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, has raised the alarm for some time both during the Obama and Trump administrations.
Johana “Joa” Medina Leon, a transgender woman from El Salvador, and Roxsana Hernández, a transgender woman from Honduras, were among those who have died after being released from immigration detention.
Yariel Valdés González, who’s gay and a contributing writer to the Blade from Cuba, has been kept in various immigration detention facilities in Louisiana for some time. Although a judge granted him asylum in September, ICE has appealed the decision and kept him in a facility as his case reaches the Board of Immigration Appeals.
During CNN’s “Equality in America” town hall late last year, Steyer affirmed his administration would put in place stronger measures to protect the health of LGBTQ asylum seekers.
“Of course we will. I mean, what we’ve seen from ICE in terms of inhumanity, this is a perfect example, but it’s not the only example,” Steyer said. “I think it’s absolutely critical for the United States of America to treat people in a humane and decent fashion.”
When the New York Times more broadly asked about the issue of health of asylum-seekers, Steyer said he favor decriminalization of border crossings, observe international law and process claims more quickly.
“So what ends up happening for asylum seekers is they come here, they are treated very harshly and then released to whoever in the worst possible way,” Steyer said. “Everyone has a right to seek asylum in the United States of America.”