NCLR Applauds Senate Inclusion of Same-Sex Couples and Relief for Youth in Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

September 30, 2010

Today, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010. This legislation, which provides many urgently needed changes to our national immigration law, protects same-sex couples by incorporating the substance of the Uniting Americans Families Act (UAFA), which would grant U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the right to sponsor their same-sex permanent partners to immigrate to the United States. UAFA has been introduced as a stand-alone bill in both the House and the Senate, and currently has 161 co-sponsors. The bill also incorporates the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for young people who have lived their entire lives in the United States and who are currently subject to deportation.

Statement from Federal Policy Attorney Maya Rupert, Esq.:

“We support the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 and applaud its inclusion of protections for same-sex binational couples. For decades, U.S. immigration law has refused to provide any way for citizens and residents who are in a committed relationship with a same-sex partner from another country to stay together in the United States. This bill would bring the United States in line with the many other countries that recognize same-sex relationships for immigration purposes. We also applaud the inclusion of the DREAM Act, which provides critically needed relief against deportation for young people who have spent their entire lives in the United States. Both of these provisions are critical to repairing our current policy and establishing a humane immigration system that creates engaged and contributing citizens. We commend Senators Menendez and Leahy for introducing an immigration reform bill that is fully inclusive and comprehensive.”


NCLR Calls on Congress for Immigration Equality for Families

July 15, 2010

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation Must Include Protections for Binational Couples among the Family Unity Provisions

Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights joined a coalition of organizations and leaders calling on Congress to insist that the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) be included in comprehensive immigration reform legislation going forward. This approach is consistent with the Senate framework announced on April 29, 2010 by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and with the Reuniting American Families Act currently pending in the U.S. House and previously introduced by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA). UAFA (formerly called the Permanent Partners Immigration Act) would grant U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the right to sponsor their same-sex permanent partners to immigrate to the United States.

A Statement from Maya Rupert, Federal Policy Attorney for National Center for Lesbian Rights:

“We agree with the Representatives who join us here today, that in order for comprehensive immigration reform legislation to be truly comprehensive, it must include UAFA. Right now, our immigration system is badly broken. Family members are needlessly separated from each other when they should be together. Ideally, our immigration system must protect and unite families, not tear them apart or keep them separated. Binational LGBT couples and their children are among those families that immigration reform must help.

NCLR is heartened by the broad support for a fully-inclusive comprehensive immigration reform bill. We stand in solidarity with our allies in Congress, the broader immigration community, the faith-based community, and all fair-minded individuals in advocating for Congress to move swiftly and enact a humane, comprehensive immigration reform bill that will protect so many families.”


Gay U.S. Citizens Seek to Claim Residency for Foreign Spouses

July 1, 2010

by Alfonso Chardy and Steve Rothaus | Miami Herald

Juan Carlos Galán and Greg Nardi of Miami Beach live together as a family and would like to get married.

Then Nardi, a U.S. citizen, would claim Galán as a relative and help the Panama-born computer expert get a green card.

For now, though, these are just dreams — unless President Barack Obama can convince Congress to pass immigration reform.

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Democrats Look to Conservative Evangelicals On Immigration

June 28, 2010

by Sarah Posner | Religion Dispatches

On a teleconference last month with a loose coalition of white and Latino evangelical leaders, Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat who had recently unveiled a legislative proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, pleaded with participants to bring Republican senators to the table to hammer out a bipartisan package.

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Watch “Two Moms Fight to Stay Together”

June 22, 2010

Shirley Tan came from the Philippines decades ago, and built a life with her partner Jay, giving birth to twin boys and becoming a full-time mom. But Shirley faced the biggest challenge of her life as she fought to stay on in the United States, crippled by laws that do not allow gay and lesbian couples to sponsor their partners.

more about "Two Moms Fight to Stay Together", posted with vodpod


Rep. Gutierrez Wants Same-Sex Partner Rights in Immigration Reform Bill

May 21, 2010

by Rex W. Huppke | Chicago Tribune

Hopes that foreign-born partners of gay and lesbian Americans could follow the same path to citizenship as heterosexual spouses got a boost Thursday when U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago said he would fight to include such a proposal in the campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.

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Immigration Rally Includes LGBT Voices

March 22, 2010

by Chris Johnson | DC Agenda

An estimated 200,000 demonstrators descended on the National Mall on Sunday to urge passage of comprehensive immigration reform, including several hundred protesters advocating for LGBT inclusion in the legislation.

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Why LGBT People Must Demand Immigration Reform

March 19, 2010

Kate Kendell, Executive Director & Noemi Calonje, Immigration Project Director

There is a large battle looming in Washington over legislation to reform our nation’s immigration laws. This coming Sunday, March 21, many LGBT immigrants, their families, and allies will march in support of immigration reform. Now is the time for us, as LGBT individuals, families, and communities, to understand why immigration reform is so critical.

Every day our immigration laws tear apart LGBT lives and families, including those of hundreds of thousands of undocumented LGBT immigrants. The stories of undocumented LGBT people are not always highly visible in our movement, but their existence and struggles are very real. They face crushing burdens that expose them to severe discrimination in virtually every aspect of life, from education to employment. In addition, current immigration laws cruelly deny same-sex bi-national couples any way to protect their relationships and stay together in this country. In many different ways, the impact of our dysfunctional immigration system on LGBT people is harsh. For instance, the current system:

1. Imposes an arbitrary deadline for LGBT immigrants fleeing violence. For years, LGBT individuals fleeing the threat of violence or death in their country of origin have been able to apply for asylum in the United States. Prior to 1996, individuals could file for asylum at any time. But in 1996, Congress imposed a punishing deadline requiring an asylum applicant to file within 12 months of entering this country. This one year bar has jeopardized the lives and safety of countless LGBT people. Many of our asylum clients arrive in the U.S. penniless, deeply traumatized by violence and abuse, deeply closeted, and with little or no access to legal information. In the midst of this shock and trauma, expecting them to find the resources to apply for asylum and to seek out necessary legal representation, is grossly unrealistic and unfair.

2. Fails to treat same-sex couples equal to heterosexual couples. Currently a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident in a heterosexual marriage may petition for his or her foreign-born spouse to immigrate lawfully to this country. That same right, however, is denied to same-sex couples. Nineteen other countries allow their citizens to sponsor same-sex partners for immigration benefits. Shockingly, the United States does not. This is a shameful state of affairs. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, even same-sex couples who have been legally married in U.S. states or foreign countries are not able to immigrate based on their marriage. Every day we hear the pleas from desperate couples forced to choose between the partner they love and the country they love. We have witnessed first-hand families torn apart and partners hauled away and deported with no legal recourse or hope for reconciliation. There are an estimated 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples in the U.S. and they all live under threat of losing the person they love. This outrageous inequality is intolerable.

3. Relegates LGBT people to dangerous detention centers where abuses are rampant. The detention of immigrants is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in this country. Every year thousands of immigrants, including thousands of children, are relegated to long stays in detention centers scattered throughout the country. These detention centers are not well-regulated and many have a track record of extreme negligence and abusive conditions. LGBT people have been especially vulnerable to these harsh conditions. In one notable example, detention center staff failed to provide vital medications to Victoria Arrellano, a transgender woman inmate with AIDS. Victoria’s cellmates pleaded and protested for staff to take her to the hospital, but after days of severe, unattended illness, she died. Once immigrants are sent to a detention facility it is virtually impossible for them to maintain contact with family, friends, or their lawyers who were in the midst of advocating for them.

4. Leaves LGBT immigrants vulnerable to homophobic and transphobic family members. Many immigrants gain legal status through family-based immigration. A U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident can petition for certain relatives, such as children and parents, to immigrate lawfully to the U.S. Sadly, many LGBT immigrants are excluded from this benefit due to family rejection. In many instances, we have seen how family members with legal status will withhold sponsorship to punish an LGBT family member for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

5. Undermines laws intended to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination. In communities with large immigrant populations, it has been exceedingly difficult to enforce laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination because so many victims and witnesses lack legal status. LGBT workers who are undocumented and suffer harassment due to their sexual orientation or gender identity are often fearful to file a complaint. Many victims and witnesses are afraid to step forward to report such discrimination, due to the risk that they might be reported to U.S. authorities. Taking advantage of this dynamic, abusive bosses act with complete disregard for anti-discrimination laws and other worker protections. We have heard from clients subjected to sexual and physical assault who did not complain out of fear they would be deported.

6. Closes off higher education for talented, young LGBT immigrants. For many LGBT people, college is an opportunity to forge our independence. While in college, we come out, build a community, pursue our passions, and get an education that opens career doors and increases our economic independence. Many gifted, undocumented LGBT young adults are forgoing college because they do not have the legal status to pursue higher education. This leaves undocumented LGBT immigrants, like other undocumented youth, stuck in low-paying jobs and unable to enjoy the life-changing opportunities that often come with college.

7. Perpetuates a politics of fear that leave all minority groups vulnerable to irrational demonization. Fear poisons politics and distorts our system of governance, threatening LGBT communities as much as immigrant communities. Anti-immigrant fear-mongering is driving a wedge between our country and its commitment to basic fairness and justice. Likewise, LGBT people know all too well how hate and fear are blunt tools that have proven too effective at the task of demonizing entire segments of our diverse country. The passage of immigration reform will signal a resounding rejection of wedge politics. Immigration reform is an opportunity to affirm our national commitment to dignity, equality, and fairness for all.

It is critical for LGBT people to become involved in the push for immigration reform. A comprehensive immigration reform bill is still taking shape in Congress. Various provisions have been placed on the table and are being debated for inclusion in the larger reform package. Key elements proposed include a pathway to citizenship based on presence in the U.S. and contributions through employment and other service, removal of the one year bar on seeking asylum, renewed judicial review to ensure a day in court for immigrants facing deportation, and improved standards at detention centers.

Already at this early stage it is apparent that provisions that are especially important to LGBT people and our families face strong opposition. The provision to treat same-sex couples equally to heterosexual couples, commonly referred to as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) provision, is already a critical point of contention. Now more than ever it is up to us to press our case for immigration reform. No one will carry our water for us. We must step up, speak up, and lead.


March in D.C. and Tell Congress to Pass UAFA Now!

March 8, 2010

On Sunday, March 21st, thousands will march in Washington for March for America, to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform. Please join NCLR and Immigration Equality and send a message that comprehensive reform must include LGBT families too!

Current immigration policy unfairly discriminates against LGBT binational couples by not allowing U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor foreign-born partners for immigration. We must call on Congress for the swift passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), proposed legislation that would provide LGBT couples with the same immigration benefits as different-sex couples.

Sign up here to join us in the march and put a stop to the unnecessary and heartbreaking separation of our families. Join us on the day of the march at the World War II memorial at 11:30 a.m. Immigration Equality staffers will be on hand to distribute signs, but please feel free to bring your own and share your stories. We will then walk together to the Lincoln Memorial, where tens of thousands of other immigration advocates will kick-off the march at 1:00 p.m.

More than 36,000 same-sex couples are facing separation, or are already forced to live separately, because of discriminatory immigration policies, and nearly half of those couples are also raising young children. March in Washington and demand UAFA. Together we can make sure to put an end to LGBT discrimination in immigration policy.

In Solidarity,




Immigration Reform Is Not ‘Comprehensive’ Unless It Includes Equality for LGBT Couples

March 5, 2010

by Camiel Becker | Bay Area Reporter

About a decade ago, while living in Central America, I met and began dating a Salvadoran man named Uvaldo. Over time, we fell in love, met each other’s families, and eventually talked about creating a life together. We discussed marriage and adopting children – almost always in the hypothetical. We wanted to be together, but I knew that living together as a biracial same-sex couple in El Salvador would be dangerous and difficult. Uvaldo knew how important it was for me to return to the U.S. to finish my studies and pursue a career as a lawyer. He was willing to come with me if it meant that we could be together.

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