Bipartisan bound to snub binationals indicative of failed Immigration Equality strategy, as gays tossed under the bus.
By Melanie Nathan, January 28, 2013 ([email protected])
A bipartisan group of Senators from both parties revealed today the framework of a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, including a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million illegal immigrants. But it would seem that the long anticipated inclusion of binational same-sex couples has been omitted from their plan.
The Senators deciding this fate include Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona.
The Comprehensive Immigration reform (CIR) details consist at this time of a four-page statement of principles, which will carry the signatures of four Republicans and four Democrats. The document is intended to provide guidelines that would allow legislation to be drafted by the end of March, including a potentially controversial “tough but fair” route to citizenship for those now living in the country illegally.
However the document makes no specific reference to same-sex binational couples, who ought to have been noted in a category that rectifies the immigration inequality that prevents binational same-sex American spouses from sponsoring their partners for green cards.
This document shows that CIR will allow undocumented immigrants with otherwise clean criminal records to quickly achieve probationary legal residency after paying a fine and back taxes. But they could pursue full citizenship — giving them the right to vote and access to government benefits — only after new measures are in place to prevent a future influx of illegal immigrants. While the document which can be seen here http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/bipartisan-framework-for-immigration-reform-report/27/ – recognizes (per the screen shots below) special categories for exceptions to quick green card entitlement, it fails to include or mention same-sex couples anywhere at all.
Binational same-sex couples do not qualify for green cards because the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, precludes the federal right of the American partner/spouse to sponsor a same-sex foreign partner, because it defines marriage as between a man and woman only. Immigration is covered only by Federal Law.
There are two groups given priority who can be legalized and obtain green cards without conditions . Those include “Dreamers” and agricultural workers. (see screen shots below).
Same-sex couples who have been denied immigration equality should have been included in that category. It seems that Senator Chuck Schumer who has purported to be at the helm of protecting same-sex binational couples in this immigration equality journey, has failed to assert any special consideration for binational couples. This is a great disappointment.
The Legislation known as The Uniting American Families Act, though requiring some amendments, ought to have been included in this bipartisan discussion.
Two aspects of this are disconcerting which I will deal with in a more detailed article to follow:-
1. The inept advocacy and bad strategy by the group that calls itself the pre-eminent LGBTI immigration equality organization, Immigration Equality; and
2. The fact that Senator Senator Charles E. Schumer promised LGBTI inclusion of UAFA on numerous occasions.
Back in 2009 when Immigration Equality stopped advocating for UAFA as a stand alone bill, they piggy backed Comprehensive Immigration Reform, attempting to quell the activist and binational concerns for their strategy, by suggesting that CIR was the best method to achieve equality for binational same-sex couples. I was never convinced and warned that the gay community will be used as a pawn in deal making and that we would be thrown under the bus. The Catholic Bishops advocated strongly against binational gay inclusion in CIR and even threatened to withdraw their support, regardless of the 11 million mostly Latino Catholics if gays were included.
I believe that the bipartisan Senators who came up with this plan have intentionally snubbed same-sex binational couples in a political “toss under the bus”. This is something I predicted would occur back in 2009, when Immigration Equality decided to stop advocating for UAFA as an expressly equality Bill and joined the Immigration reform bandwagon. I can point to many articles and letters I wrote warning of this moment.
Immigration Equality has yet to take responsibility for their failed strategy and on their website this morning state: “Today’s framework is just that: a starting point, but not yet a bill. We will work non-stop to make sure our families are part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation when it is introduced. Any immigration bill in Congress must allow LGBT people to sponsor their spouse or permanent partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.” This is the same story the binational community has heard from the so called leaders on the issue at Immigration Equality for the past 5 years.
What needs to happen:
The LGBT organizations cannot remain silent and need to come out now with major criticism for the failure to even mention LGBT couples. The fact that DOMA repeal is before Congress in the form of little acted upon introduction of The Respect for Families Act and the fact that SCOTUS may rule DOMA unconstitutional, is no excuse to subvert the UAFA advocacy. GAY Inc. and the LGBT community cannot rely only on Immigration Equality’s lead any longer. We need to hear from every single GAY Inc. organization. It is time that HRC, et al, stopped leaving this bad decision making to inept leadership such as Rachel Tiven, Jule Kruse and others who have dominated the strategy via their positions at Immigration Equality, which has now proved its ineffectiveness on behalf of binational couples.
We need to immediately launch large protests at the offices of Chuck Schumer demanding accountability for his past promises. Given that Schumer had to make a deal with the likes of anti-gay John McCain who could not give a damn about LGBT equality, it is clear what must have gone down in these negotiations. This is a disgusting state of affairs and we should not be silent.