Testimony of Arielle Wisbaum Before the New York City Council’s Committees on Immigration and Hospitals

Disability Justice, Health Justice, Immigrant Justice, Media Coverage, News, UndocuCare, UndocuCare TGNCI+

Testimony of Arielle Wisbaum, Health Justice Staff Attorney, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Before the New York City Council’s Committees on Immigration and Hospitals

April 16, 2024

My name is Arielle Wisbaum, and I am a staff attorney at New York Lawyers for the  Public Interest (NYLPI). I work in NYLPI’s UndocuCare TGNCI+ program, a program striving  to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers who are transgender, gender-nonconforming, intersex  (TGNCI), or who are living with HIV can obtain and sustain access to gender-affirming  healthcare, HIV care, and housing through immigration legal advocacy.1 I want to thank you for  the opportunity to present testimony about some of the barriers that the community members we  work with encounter and how New York City can better respond to their needs. Our testimony  today is informed by our clients’ and community partners’ experiences. We are especially  grateful to the Black Alliance for Justice Immigration (BAJI) and UndocuBlack for prioritizing  the lives of Black migrants and reporting information crucial to fighting for an immigration  system that is not fueled by racism and nativism. 

A significant number of the immigrant LGBTQ+ New Yorkers we work with at NYLPI are seeking asylum and have survived extraordinary violence and persecution in their lives  merely for expressing their true gender or sexuality. Those in need of gender-affirming  healthcare in their home countries often did not have the opportunity to seek this lifesaving care due to safety concerns, or it was simply unavailable to them; and those in need of HIV medication frequently encountered discriminatory denials of treatment. The violence asylum  seekers have endured in their lives often leaves them with trauma related symptoms such as  posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and anxiety. For these  reasons, immediate access to gender-affirming healthcare for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers,  including mental healthcare, is a basic need that New York City can and must fulfill. Furthermore, our leaders must see housing as healthcare, acknowledging the reality that housing  instability exacerbates physical and mental health conditions and can result in something as grave as an asylum seeker’s deportation to a country of impending persecution for lack of a  stable address. 

Download the full testimony below.


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