Some HISTORY of UAFA – The Most profoundly messed around piece of legislation ever!
Immigration Reform, Binational Anger Builds – Plea by Reps to include UAFA-
Melanie Nathan, 2/08/10 .
On the 3rd of February I posted the news that Senator Schumer will not be including our LGBT families in his immigration reform Bill. Amongst the very many e-mails sent to me as a result, here is one example, sent to us by a very angry binational same-sex partner. http://lezgetreal.com/?p=25829 I reported – ” Have you ever wondered why a long silence actually starts to sound like a deafening noise? It is now that the silence from Senator Schumer is deafening, with the shocking revelation from a reliable source informing us at Lezgetreal that Senator Schumer will not be including UAFA or LGBT rights in his immigration reform bill to be introduced in the weeks ahead”
Perhaps this forthcoming exclusion is what sparked todays letter by 60 Congressional representatives to the President and Congress, urging inclusion of gay and lesbian families in immigration reform or via UAFA. The effort led by Rep Tammy Baldwin sent a letter to the White House and Congress to urge support for UAFA and LGBT inclusion in comprehensive immigration reform. Soon thereafter our website, known for its assertive coverage of the binational plight was visited again by members of Congress and offices much higher than that. Perhaps the White House is going to take action.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the lead House sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, which would also end discrimination against LGBT binational families, asserts “We must take the government out of the business of singling out LGBT families for discriminatory treatment and live up to our democratic ideal of equality under the law,” Nadler said. “I join my colleagues in calling on Congress and the White House to include the Uniting American Families Act, which I have introduced in every Congress since 2000, in any immigration reform legislation, and end discrimination against binational LGBT families.”
What I find particularly disconcerting is that Immigration Equality, who holds itself out as the “pre-imminent” organization for immigration equality rights, has failed to come forward with the knowledge that Senator Schumer is not planning to include us, and continues to msilead us by their silence.
Does IE have a duty to play level with binationals? I believe they do for as long as they find themselves in the number one slot on the issue. What has stopped them from keeping us fully informed?
This organization has led us down a treacherous and unwise path – into the corner we now find ourselves, and still they make decisions without our involvement as a community. They have made a choice to side with those who do not want us and to try and convince the strongest of all faith based powers that it is a good idea to include gays and lesbians.
So now that the White House has been alerted to Act –
The question becomes:
1. Would you like to see quick and soon passage of UAFA as a standalone; Or
2. Are you ready for the long and hateful haul of immigration reform;
The difference between the two lies in the philosophy: Whereas the first seems to rest on equality the second will rest on immigration. Which is the tougher argument. Will the immigrant community be impressed by the fact that the house already has 60 on board for immigration reform? Will that make them think we are worthy to their cause?
While much hated in the eyes of so many in this Country – gays and lesbians, et al, may now be coupled with the other most disliked group – whom the conservatives choose to refer to as ‘illegal aliens,’ and progressives refer to as ‘undocumented workers/immigrants.’
It is already apparent that even amongst those immigrants seeking respite from the woes of the system, resentment is building because some feel they have a much more worthy cause than ‘the gays’ – I have received emails to this effect – more worthy because we are maybe 100,000 and they are 12 million in number. An example of some dialogue can be found at the comments at http://lezgetreal.com/?p=25829
Schumer is known to have stated that he has chosen to abate the voracious displeasure of the Catholic community. Can you imagine once we are included what is yet to come?
That said perhaps Schumer will be doing us a favor.
I too am calling on President Obama to PLEASE urge Congress to pass a stand-alone Bill right now – UAFA. I for one will be glad to accept an amendment to the Current Nadler legislation – where the evidentiary proof of permanent partnership must include an affirming certificate from any Jurisdiction in the World. (eg. marriage certificate, DP or civil union certificate.) That will dismantle the fraud argument because we will be on a level playing field with the straight spousal community.
Please help us avert a faith based immigration vs. LGBT equality battle – already emerging.
A READER’S LETTER (amongst hundreds);Sunday, February 07, 2010
Senator Chuck Schumer
Congressman Peter king
State Department, Hilary Clinton
Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi
Congressman Steve Israel
Melanie Nathan at http://lezgetreal.com
New York Times
“To Senator Chuck Schumer
I never thought that I would be calling you a liar and a cheat but I was wrong. When I watched you at the UAFA Senate hearing I was so happy that you where a senator from Long Island standing up to the right wing nuts, the church and all the bigots in this country. But after reading a story on Lezgetreal.com (http://lezgetreal.com/?p=25829 ) I was so wrong about you! I guess you are like all the rest that say something and turn around and do something else.
After I talked to L. Fresco in your office I thought I could just sit back and just wait till you came out with the bill on Immigration reform but once again my government let me down. He had told me that you where not going to include the UAFA into your bill till the Latino senators and congressman were made happy and they got their way.
Because I was told they would block the bill and not support it. It looks like you couldn’t get there support so you turned your back on us. Because of you and senator Gillibrand and Congressman Peter King I now have to make plans on leaving my country for good to be with my husband, yes we are legally married in Canada and 20 other countries. I’ve sent your office my marriage Lic, faxed it to your DC office, and hand delivered it to your long island office.
Not only that I had sent the forms from the US state department to sponsor my husband but didn’t get an answer from you, Gillibrand, Peter King and the white house. This was to proof that I am legally married to a non American and asking for help to sponsor him into this once great country. But since this is a gay issue and an immigrations issue no one will help.
Just to let you know I am now going to contact ever single congressman, senator and newspaper in this country to let them know that you lied in a the senate hearing (6/2/2009) and because of your actions not including the uniting American families act into your immigration reform bill anther taxpaying US citizen has to leave his home land for good.
I’m really mad and upset that I’m sitting here and my husband is half way around the world all because of the Republican Party and the church that has it in for gay rights and civil rights. I’m really mad and upset that the Democratic Party for not having a back bone and standing up to the right wing. I’m also mad and upset that I can be legally married in 20 countries and the country that claims civil rights has very little to gay people. I’m also mad and upset at Chuck Schumer for talking the talk but can’t walk the walk! I’m, also upset that the US state department is handing out visas like water to the people of Haiti and I can’t get one for my husband who has legal rights to one being married to an American. What a wonderful country this is, ya right!
Thank you for your none help!
I, am a US Taxpayer who can’t get any help
Action Alert –February 8th, 2010
At 10:30am on February 11 — one week after our call-in to Senator Schumer’s office — the Long Island Immigrant Alliance will hold a rally outside of Schumer’s Melville office (145 Pine Lawn Road, Melville, NY 11747). The rally will show support for Senator Schumer’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, which would fix a broken immigration system, end the exploitation and demonization of immigrants, strengthen our economy by $1.5 trillion, and support our nation’s values. For more information about the rally, call 631-789-0720 Long Island Immigrant Alliance …
Congressman Nadler – UAFA its uncertainty Circa 2010
Congressman Nadler Outlines UAFA Strategy Bi-nationals Brace For a Crash Landing – Senator Schumer Squarely on the Hook with LGBT Activists
Melanie Nathan, 3-23-10 . 11.30 PM: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community have long sought parity in US immigration laws. One of the most reprehensible aspects of inequality is one that physically separates spouses and families, especially where a portion of the population is singled out for this prejudicial existence.
Having now accomplished Health Care Reform, it is apparent that President Obama has acquired the momentum and political capital to fuel the leadership necessary to fulfill the next campaign promise, that of immigration reform. Why then are our congressional leaders still asserting impossible?
Late last year, Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) introduced HR 4321: the (so called) Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009—or “CIR . “ Now we wait, with bated breath, for the Senate version of the Bill to be introduced, at any moment, by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Lindsey Graham, being touted a bi-partisan Bill.
Rep Gutierrez’s Bill, however, snubbed gay and lesbian couples, much to the upset of the LGBT community and bi-national same-sex couples, by failing to attach UAFA, the Uniting American Families Act, H.R. 1024, S. 424) a U.S. bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate discrimination in the immigration laws against gay couples seeking spousal/ partner sponsorship for green cards, as a critical component to his version of comprehensive immigration reform. Is he thinking that we should not have immigration equality? Is he going to attach UAFA later in the process? Does he think UAFA should be a stand-alone Bill. As to the latter Congressman Nadler, says UAFA will not be a stand alone bill.
Tonight, Congressman Nadler, headlined a special “strategy call,” to discuss the future of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and added to the quandary of the Gutierrez snub; with approximately 100 gay activists and bi-national partners listening in on the call, Congressman Nadler stated emphatically, “The leadership has made it clear that UAFA will only be passed if it is in the form of an attachment to comprehensive immigration reform and that it will not be pursued as stand- alone by the congressional leadership.” (Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps Zoe Lofgren and John Conyers.) While this leadership is refusing to pursue UAFA as a separate Bill, they have subscribed to including us in comprehensive immigration reform as the only possible way bi-nationals same-sex partners would obtain immigration equality, at this time.
So what in heaven’s name was Luis Gutierrez thinking when he excluded UAFA? Did he know leadership would be refusing to pursue UAFA as a stand alone bill? Has there been dialogue between House leadership and Gutierrez; how are they going to reconcile this snub? If you have leadership saying we MUST be included in CIR and the author and sponsor of the Bill failing to do so, what are they thinking? No equality for the queer couples? ANSWER – Call Gutierrez again – write him and say:
“Dear Rep, Gutierrez , Tonight Congressman Nadler told us that House leadership will not pursue UAFA as a stand alone Bill, yet you excluded our b i-national same-sex permanent partners from your Immigration Reform Bill? We demand Answers: 1. Did you know that the leadership refuse to pursue UAFA as a stand alone? 2. Do you intend to leave us out of Immigration reform for the duration of the Process? Unless we receive satisfactory explanation from you, we can only assume prejudice on your part and a desire to keep LGBT immigration law, broken as you fix it for the rest of America.”
Bi-nationals same sex couples now await Senator Schumer’s version of CIR and for him to include UAFA, attached to his Senate reform Bill. Senator Schumer has indicated his support for UAFA, more than once, in a video of his comments at the Hearing for UAFA and in a recent letter to constituents, which we previously reported.
Nadler also mentioned the Schumer letter on tonight’s telephone call, asserting that Senator Schumer’s letter clearly indicates his support of UAFA’s inclusion in CIR. However, Schumer has yet to come out and say that he is including UAFA in his reform bill. What if he does not? Do we ask the same questions of Schumer as we now do of Gutierrez?
An earlier article which I posted on this site, reveals a source close to Senator Schumer informed LGR that the Senator was planning to exclude UAFA; however much pressure has been brought to bear on the Senator, since the article posted, and his letter in fact followed the article, seeming to dispel my revelation and the information which I had received. If the pressure already brought to bear will be of any influence, great! But what if Schumer does not include UAFA? What next? Rep. Nadler said we would have to go through the Judiciary Committee or the Immigration Committee. A little risky strategy – no real plan B and Plan A is not yet more than a vague nod.
When asked about the Catholic Bishops, Nadler confirmed what I reported in my earlier article on LGR, that the Catholic Bishops had in fact given an ultimatum (to Schumer) – they actually came out and said they would NOT support immigration Reform that included UAFA. Nadler said what the Bishops say should not hinder the legislation; albeit they were one of the most powerful groups in the mix and that we must push forward regardless.
This is a supportive Senator – do not allow him to ignore our plight, or to postpone his intent.
“Dear Senator Schumer, you cannot leave us out of CIR; you cannot buckle under the glare of religious groups. You swore an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and now we expect you to abide – the Church has no place in influencing legislation, it flies in the face of everything America Stands for, Please find the courage to do the right thing.”
Nadler asserted that this would be the only way – for UAFA to pass- and that would be via passage with a larger immigration reform bill. The votes would need to be 217 in the House and at least 51 in the Senate. Congressman Nadler has led the fight for UAFA and is highly respected by activists and the LGBT community, reputed to be one of the most dedicated in the fight for immigration equality. His ideas are to be trusted and his leadership followed.
However what if UAFA is NOT included in the immigration reform bill by Schumer? When asked the question, Nadler said that we needed to push very hard, to keep pushing speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Reps Lofgren and Conyers and to really apply the pressure to Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Patrick Leahy,
So with UAFA as a stand- alone now completely out of the purview of our congressional leadership, we must fight for UAFA to be included in reform legislation.
ACTION: According to Rep. Nadler, we must apply the pressure in a BIG way and push very hard now for inclusion– and I although I find this sense of desperation a contradiction to Nadler’s assertion that Schumer’s letter was clear that we will be included in his legislation, I too have to ask you all to continue the aggressive and constant barrage of stories, letters, begging, and what ever it takes – chain yourself to Schumer’s conscience with your heart wrenching stories.
Even if you have sent your story to your own Congressional representative and Senator/s, resend via fax or email; include pictures, and be sure to get copies to Nancy Pelosi, Zoe Lofgren, John Conyers and other leaders in Congress. Send it to President Obama as well, Lindsey Graham, incumbents who need to be re-elected, Senators Leahy, Arlen Specter, Dianne Feinstein, of course Schumer.
Ask your member of congress to take a leadership role and talk to other members to speak up of equality and human rights. Get your relatives to write, make calls. We MUST overwhelm them and it must be now!
If we are not included then there is the possibility that we can be later on in the process and so the pressure must be applied even after an exclusionary Bill is introduced.
Amos Lim from Out4Imigration, who was on the call last night, said that Rep Nadler reiterated that “it is important important to make sure that the Speaker, the Judiciary Committee Chairs and the Immigration Sub-committee Chairs of both the House and the Senate hears from us that LGBT Families needs to be included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill.”
Also ask your reps to call Schumer to request him to include UAFA in Immigration reform – this could be done in a phone call. Get on face book, on your blogs, to your families, and twitter and get your friends busy. Demand t leadership by your own representatives. Ask them to approach leadership to bring this the emergency status it deserves.
White House Calls for Immigration Reform Discussion with Senators Schumer & Graham
By Melanie Nathan, San Francisco, 3-7-10.
President Obama has called Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham to the White House, for a discussion on Monday about moving immigration reform forward. But does this discussion include the LGBT community’s need for inclusion in reform or has it already been determined that the gay and lesbian bi-national partners will not be included in immigration reform.
The two Senators are supposedly working on a Comprehensive immigration reform bill. Why I say supposedly? I have been told, since September last year, that the Bill was about to be introduced, next week – in two weeks and it went on.
I acknowledge that the immigrant community is frustrated that a Bill has not been forthcoming by this administration, despite promises that it would be out this past year. Yes the immigrant community is suffering the horrible impact of a broken system and it must change – but our activists are now making their plight our fight.
Obviously there are Gay and lesbians, et al, caught up in the broken immigration system. They are our brothers and sisters and we feel for the plight. However since when did the LGBT community give its permission for Immigration Equality to move UAFA – a bi-national – same-sex permanent partner equality Bill into an immigration reform BILL so that we could be kind and nice to all the others impacted by the broken system.
I emphasize that the LGBT community has been waiting for a decade, not for comprehensive immigration reform, but for passage of a Bill that would signal equality under the current existing Immigration law.
Now we have been thrown onto the Immigration reform Bus with 12 million others, being led by a withering dangling carrot – being – “think of this we can help so many others beyond just the bi-national community.”
Here is the proof – Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality’s executive director says, “This is a both/and situation for us, not an either/or.” If we fight for truly inclusive reform, we can work to make sure that no one is left behind. And the moment to bring our power to bear – and ensure we are heard and included, too – has now arrived.
Here it is the anchor that sunk the ship – those all too revealing words- come on board the Titanic we guarantee passage remark from Immigration equality. As long as all you activists tow the line and go along with IE, you are sailing, my friends, on the Titanic. Big ship Big sink.
The attempts by pro equality lawmakers have taken the form of several incarnations over the past years, including The Permanent Partners Immigration Act, now defunct and the current UAFA, Uniting American Families Act, introduced into Congress by Rep. Jerrold Nadler.
Associated Press reports that according to White House spokesman, Nicholas Shapiro, the President is “looking forward to hearing more about their efforts toward producing a bipartisan bill,” Shapiro said Friday.
Bipartisan? Are there no lessons from healthcare reform? With the current Republican mix of heard hearts, Bipartisan is an oxymoron. Just get the Bill out to a vote. The only Bi one should be thinking is binational. Bipartisan attempts, after the healthcare debacle ought to be off the to do list, with respect Mr. President. When will the Whitehouse get it, these Republicans hate him and want him to accomplish nothing. They want him out of office, so its worth it to them to stick a pitchfork in the heart of any proposed legislation.
Any feigned bipartisanship will in any event require the destruction of the very essence of an immigration bill – the bill will not be comprehensive. We all know that. But anyway in these articles quoted by Pam’s House Blend and Immigration equality Blogs, there is no mention by the White House that the discussions on CIR (comprehensive immigration reform) will include UAFA.
We believe that Senator Schumer has already sold the LGBT community out to the Catholic Bishops (see my earlier post-referenced below.) WE ARE not going to be included in comprehensive reform and (BIG) IF we are – (and I hope Schumer will change his mind) – then surely bringing Graham in we result in us being out the door before we are back in the door that we are already out of…. (get the point?)
If the LGBT community is actually left out from a purely Democratic or even bipartisan Bill, then we cannot afford to hesitate and must produce some real strategy for UAFA as a stand-alone. At the very least we can step up the fight based on the question of equality for the American citizen partner, as opposed to this being an immigration issue for the foreign born partners, who have no inherent rights in terms of our Constitution to immigrate to the USA. Why don’t we attach UAFA to DADT repeal? I am sure DADT will be repealed and UAFA will simply make sense to tag on. That would be easier than chasing CIR.
As long as Immigration Equality thinks we will be productively included to the point of passage in Comprehensive Immigration reform, the longer UAFA as a stand alone sits in the trash can. However once an immigration Bill is out for reform, then we will have a better idea of where we stand and whether Immigration Equality and other activists would be compelled to get their eye back on UAFA.
Based on this purview and the current uncertainty, I believe it is time for Immigration Equality to come clean and to account to us as a community. For now I promise to be quiet about the back door deals. However I do have the following questions for Immigration Equality- perhaps the same I have been asking for many months:
You have assumed the role of pre-eminent lobbyist for this issue- you purport to have done all in your power for UAFA – on behalf of our community – you continue to solicit funds in the name of UAFA and its grass root activists – and – You have directed all LGBT groups into the quagmire of the non-existent immigration reform – tenuously perhaps to come-whilst Healthcare was clearly rendering its prophetic shadow -you NOW owe us ALL a duty, including me, probably your most significant critic, to be transparent.
Immigration Equality, tell us what is your plan. What is your plan – not in theory -practically? Who are you speaking to? What deals have you made on our behalf? Where do we stand if we are not included in CIR? What is plan B? What if we are included in CIR – what are the risks to UAFA as a stand-alone then? You did not give us an opportunity to weigh in on what you termed a complete win for us in June of last year, how about involving us ALL, in an honest assessment, at this time? Are you reassessing your strategy ever? Do you need to assess now if this is a workable route.
Last week I found out that some months back, Immigration Equality tried to silence my voice by writing the editor of this, the Lezgetreal news and blog site. We get over 130,000 hits per month, and amongst my fellow writers, my voice is being heard. It is being heard by grassroots and lawmakers alike. Immigration Equality wrote our Editor in an e-mail asking for me, Melanie Nathan to be axed from LGR because and I quote “She is a loose cannon.” If truth, honesty and transparency define ‘loose cannon,’ then thanks for the title.
But I am sure as there is no contrary opinion on Pam’s Blog and as long as that Blog supports / sponsors Immigration Equality, there are very few contrary opinions for IE to worry about.
From Immigration Equality’s website (reflecting Pam’s House Blend and AP report,) – “Several community groups planned to vent some of that frustration in a news conference Monday in Washington. The groups also are trying to organize tens of thousands of people from around the country for a March 21 demonstration in Washington.” Please note these are Immigration reform groups from the larger community.
Immigration Equality and other organizations of the LGBT community are also planning various activities, protests, hoping for visibility to be included in Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
While I support visibility; I do not support the lengths we have gone to and the effort still to come, to get noticed for inclusion in an immigration reform Bill, because our issue is lost, especially while people like Tiven, advocate for immigration for all and broken systems ahead of equality? IE say we are here for the good of all! It should be first and foremost be about equality.
This strategy has cost us more than a year more, and we are not on the cards for inclusion. The effort should have been going to UAFA – all of it- we could still have marched on the 21st, because by that time you may have had double the support on UAFA and our inclusion would have been organic, by virtue of a lot more being brought to the table.
“The president’s commitment to fixing our broken immigration system remains unwavering,” Shapiro said.” Well thank you but what about EQUALITY. Bi-national LGBT Equality. I wonder if that will even be brought into discussion. If Senator Schumer is planning to exclude us from the Bill, I would ask for his kindness in speaking to the President about UAFA and for some leadership to move the LGBT cause forward in the form of UAFA.
March for Visibility, March for UAFA, March for UAFA’s inclusion on CIR -thats fine but please Immigration Equality, do not patronize us with your BS that we should be here for the good of all. That would be a poor excuse for your mistake.
Caucus Letter to President, House, and Senate Leadership; Now- Melanie Nathan: “this makes the Case for UAFA as an Urgent Stand Alone!”
Melanie Nathan Posts – San Francisco, 2/09/ 2010 –
Baldwin, Frank, Polis, Nadler, Honda, Quigley Seek to End Discrimination for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Binational Families.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Congressmen Barney Frank (D- MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Mike Quigley (D-IL), joined by more than 50 Members of the LGBT Equality Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have sent a letter to President Obama and House and Senate leaders expressing their strong support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would end discrimination against LGBT binational families.
“There is simply no place for discrimination in America,” said Congresswoman Baldwin. “LGBT families are being torn apart by inequitable immigration laws that deny same sex married couples and domestic partners the same rights and obligations as their married heterosexual neighbors. As we tackle comprehensive immigration reform, it’s imperative that we end discriminatory laws that hurt couples, their children and extended families, and their communities and employers,” Baldwin said.
“We are a nation of immigrants and, as a result, our diversity is our greatest strength,” said Congressman Polis. “Unfortunately, our out-dated immigration system contains laws that discriminate against LGBT families and hinder our economy, our diversity, and our status as a beacon of hope and liberty to people across the world. To be truly comprehensive and achieve real, long-lasting reform, we must provide all domestic partners and married couples the same rights and obligations in any immigration legislation,” Polis said.
“Comprehensive immigration reform will only be truly comprehensive if it includes LGBT families,” said Congressman Nadler. “We must take the government out of the businesses of singling out LGBT families for discriminatory treatment and live up to our democratic ideal of equality under the law. I join my colleagues in calling on Congress and the White House to include the Uniting American Families Act, which I have introduced in every Congress since 2000, in any immigration reform legislation and end discrimination against binational LGBT families,” Nadler said.
“As Vice Chair of the Equality Caucus, I am excited to support the Caucus’s call for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Congressman Honda. “Last June, I included same-sex permanent partners in my Reuniting Families Act, H.R. 2709, because the reunification of all families must be the cornerstone of our immigration policy. That the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Black Caucus, and Progressive Caucus, stand beside the Asian Caucus, which I chair, in this call for reform reminds me of the diversity of communities affected by our broken immigration system. The time to help our economy, reunite our families, all our families, and to live up to our values as a nation of immigrants is now,” Honda said.
“It saddens me to think that the struggle for immigration reform, a movement based on the fundamental principles of equality and the decent treatment of every human being, could push on without including LGBT families,” said Congressman Quigley. “If we are to truly consider a proposal deemed ‘comprehensive,’ we must include everyone. The beauty of America is that somewhere in each of our lineages, someone made the choice to come here, to a country built on fairness and justice. We must continue to honor that tradition not just for some, but for all,” Quigley said.
Under current law, LGBT Americans are unable to sponsor their spouses or partners for legal residency in the U.S. and, as a result, tens of thousands of binational families are either living separately, facing imminent separation, or have left the U.S. entirely in order to remain together. This policy often separates children from a parent, causes businesses to lose valuable employees, and forces state, local and the federal government to lose hardworking taxpayers.
A California mother of two who has been with her American citizen partner for 23 years, Shirley Tan, was detained by immigration and faces future deportation. Ms. Tan, who is also the primary caregiver for her partner’s elderly mother, faces the very real possibility of being torn away from her family unless immigration reform includes LGBT couples, too.
In Wisconsin, a valued language teacher, Lucie Ferrari, was forced to leave the country causing her American partner (they are legally married in Canada) to give up her job as a neighborhood organizer and leave as well, so they could be together.
In Minnesota, an American citizen is currently considering closing her small business – which generates more than one million dollars annually – so that she can leave the country in order to be with her Malaysian partner.
In Vermont, a physician who worked with wounded troops at a local Veterans Administration medical facility recently quit his job, and moved to a part-time position elsewhere, so he will be able to travel frequently to South America to be with his partner.
Each of these stories is heart-wrenching and damaging to many, many lives and, unfortunately, all too common. Every day, loving, hard-working families are torn apart because of discriminatory immigration laws.
The Members call on President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, Chuck Schumer, and Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, Zoe Lofgren, to include the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024/S. 424) in any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
My Commentary – I cannot understand why this does not simply make the case for UAFA as a Stand alone. How can such a powerful caucus not have the gumshen to get this through congress, on the basis of INEQUALITY and not on the basis of IMMIGRATION REFORM.
I do not understand why we are entering the complexity (or should I say why we have been cornered into it) of comprehensive immigration reform. Of course we should be included in CIR – but that ought to have been organic.
In the meantime these very congressional reps should have fought like crazy for us binationals and the egregious inequality we have suffered. So now that they are finally making the argument in such a forceful fashion, having been pushed by the fact that Schumer is planning to exclude us, I say get UAFA passed NOW. Please Mr. President make that a priority. If you add us to CIR there will be an enormous amount of fall out, not that I am sugegsting you don’t if that is the onl;y option.
You, this powerful Caucus ought to first attempt UAFA as a stand-alone in earnest. Before CIR is even announced. It can then be tacked on. But please let us stop waiting for CIR-….. The argument for us is simple -E Q U A L I T Y first – immigration second.
A copy of the letter follows. Copy with all signatures is attached.
February 2, 2010
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security
313 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren
Chairwoman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law
102 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schumer, and Chairwoman Lofgren:
As members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we are writing to express our strong support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill which would end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) binational families. We urge Congress to include the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024/S. 424) in any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Currently, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents may sponsor their spouses (and other immediate family members) for immigration purposes. But, same-sex partners committed to spending their lives together are not recognized as “families” under U.S. immigration law and thus do not have this same right. As a result, tens of thousands of binational families are either already living separately, face imminent separation, or have left the U.S. entirely in order to remain together. This is unacceptable, and we believe comprehensive immigration reform legislation must include a strong family reunification component inclusive of LGBT families.
According to 2000 census data compiled by the Williams Institute, an estimated 36,000 LGBT binational families are impacted by the inability to sponsor their partners for residency, and nearly half of those (47 percent) are raising children. Our existing, discriminatory immigration laws hurt not only those individuals, but their extended families, communities, and employers, as well. Not only would an inclusive family reunification provision strengthen American families, it would bolster the competitiveness of businesses in the U.S. by allowing corporations to attract, employ, and retain the very best talent from across the globe. Indeed, the U.S. lags behind 19 countries that already recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, and Germany.
In truth, no immigration reform bill can be called “comprehensive” unless it includes all Americans, including those who are LGBT. This is recognized in the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709), which includes LGBT families in addressing the broader immigration problem of family unification.
We urge you to include LGBT binational families in comprehensive immigration reform legislation. No one should be forced to choose between the person they love and the country they call home. It is time that our immigration laws kept families together instead of tearing them apart.
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Congressmen Barney Frank (D- MA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Mike Quigley (D-IL), et. al.