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Erik and Ivan, a Russian LGBTQ couple seeking asylum

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This fundraiser is for two members of the LGBTQ community, Erik and Ivan Beda, who have fallen on hard times. Their story is one of survival and resilience. I’d like to share it here…

A little over three weeks ago, we met Erik at – of all places – the MSP airport. My husband, John, is a volunteer at MSP as a Travel Assistant. One day during his regular shift, he was called to his supervisor’s office to help with a unique situation. When John arrived, he was told that there was a Russian man (Erik) who had just arrived on a plane from Arizona with nothing to his name. Erik spoke no English, had no money, knew no-one, and had only the clothes on his back.

John was tasked with helping Erik, and using Google translate as their only means of communication, he learned that Erik had been sent to Minnesota from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Arizona where he and his husband, Ivan, crossed the border from Mexico.
Erik is a trans male, and he and Ivan were fleeing Russia because any LGBTQ person is considered a terrorist and enemy of the state. So, Erik and Ivan were truly running for their lives.

When Erik and Ivan arrived in the U.S. from Mexico, ICE would not keep Erik in detention due to an inability to house a trans person, medical needs (hormones) and liability. However, Ivan was detained in the Arizona detention center.

Over the next four hours, John found Erik shelter, food, and basic necessities. Since that first whirl-wind meeting, John, his husband Joe, and neighbor Katie have spent countless hours contacting numerous resources around the Twin Cities (and beyond) to:
• secure additional shelter and personal items for Erik (including clothing, toiletries, etc),
• find healthcare through HCMC to treat Erik’s medical needs,
• find a dentist to treat some lingering and painful dental issues
• find an attorney to help Erik with his asylum case
• find an organization to post bond for Ivan to get him out of the ICE detention center.

Ivan was recently moved from the ICE detention center in Arizona to one in Georgia, and we are currently looking for an attorney in Georgia to take Ivan’s case, so bond can be set for his release, and we can finally reunite Erik and Ivan after being apart for months.

As members of the LGBTQ community, Ivan and Erik faced persecution their whole lives together in Russia from family and neighbors, They experienced physical attacks and eventually they were threatened with arrest by authorities who found out that Erik was trans. Both men are educated biologists who specialized in zoology. They owned a home in the country and raised cattle.

Once the authorities learned about Erik and Ivan, they issued a warrant for Erik’s arrest. The men were forced to leave Russia as quickly as possible. To avoid arrest, they abandoned their beloved farmstead, gave their sweet dog away, and flew to Mexico with the little savings they had.

They spent two months in Mexico attempting to apply for asylum in the U.S. when tragedy struck again. They were assaulted and robbed of all their money and possessions. Out of desperation, they then crossed into the U.S. hoping for relief.
Erik and Ivan have experienced so much tragedy in their lives. It’s impossible to imagine what living in Russia would be like for an LGBTQ person, and it’s even more impossible understanding the struggles they’ve faced to survive, escape, and reunite in a new country so they can build the life that they’ve always dreamed of. Erik says that their dream life would be to have a place in the country where they can live off the land and work with animals.

This fundraiser is so important to them to help them get reunited and to help them begin a new and safer life together here in Minnesota. We would love it if you could help them make this wish come true.
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  • Anonymous
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  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 11 d
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Organizer

Joe Briol
Organizer
Woodbury, MN

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