Headshot of Matthew Palmquist

Matthew Palmquist

  • Hosted by Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location Phoenix, Arizona
  • Law school University of Southern California Gould School of Law
  • Issue area Immigrant Populations, LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2022
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Matt (he/him/his) will partner with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to provide holistic representation for detained LGBTQIA+ migrants in Arizona via direct representation, strategic litigation, and community lawyering.

LGBTQIA+ migrants fleeing violence and discrimination at home often arrive at the Southwest Border only to encounter more of the same. Arizona has one of the highest immigrant detention rates in the nation, and many are locked up merely for asserting their legal right to seek asylum. In detention, queer migrants are particularly vulnerable. Nationwide, they represent 0.14% of detainees but 12% of sexual abuse cases and remain in ICE custody up to three times longer than cisgender, heterosexual migrants. Now more than ever, LGBTQIA+ migrants in Arizona need a dedicated advocate.

Matt is inspired by his musical genius Korean mother, who came to the U.S. back when racist quotas kept most Asians out, and his white, hippie science professor father, who left his church due to its opposition to gay rights. They taught him to embrace those who are different, fight for the less fortunate, and never give up on the gay agenda.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Matt will provide direct representation for LGBTQIA+ migrants by fighting for their release through ICE advocacy and custody redetermination hearings. He will also strategically litigate asylum claims and build resources to help fellow practitioners. Finally, Matt will collaborate with existing community organizations to strengthen Arizona’s support system for LGBTQIA+ migrants and push for structural change.


Advocating for LGBTQIA+ Asylum Seekers

2022 Equal Justice Works Fellowship Winner Has a Passion for Immigrant Rights

69 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships−including the U.S. until 2003. Sexual orientation and gender identity can be strong bases for asylum, but, without representation, queer migrants often face prolonged detention and removal.

Matthew Palmquist /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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