San Francisco’s Role in Shaping National Immigration Policy
Immigration Commission, San Francisco
by MELANIE NATHAN
Exerpts: Full testimony on UAFA Page
In March of this year I was faced with a Sophie’s choice – I could stay in the US with my 12 year old daughter, in a shared custody arrangement; or leave her behind to go into exile with my spouse and our 4 year old. Our 4 year nightmare involved navigating the complex Immigration system to keep our family together. Had we not been of the same sex, we would have had no problems at all.
After receiving help from Senator Feinstein, I lead the effort to obtain the introduction by Senator Feinstein of Private Bill #867 for Shirley Tan and when my advocacy became public scores of binational couples began contacting me for help; and not a day goes by without a new request. I testified before the California State Assembly Judicial Committee for AJR 15 and provided written testimony to Senator Leahy for UAFA at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing June 3rd 2009.
This equality based legislation is critical to the tens of thousands of gay and lesbian couples who are either living in exile, or illegally – in fear, in detention or separated from their loved ones. California makes up a large percentage of binational couples and many are from the bay area. I believe it would be remiss for San Francisco, the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors of this LGBTQ iconic city to fail its locals by not placing UAFA’s inclusion as a critical element to any advocacy relating to new, amending or modifying immigration legislation.
The city of San Francisco has its work cut out for it when it comes to Immigration reform, and it must stand up for all its residents; while certain religious communities strongly support immigration reform, it is apparent they will oppose the inclusion of UAFA and may well shoot themselves in the toe rather than support fully inclusive reform that excludes no one.