Hillary Clinton’s Vote for 2007 Immigration Reform Excluded Same-Sex Couples

The 2007 legislation did nothing to include LGBT same-sex couples. I did not see either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders say or do much to help us when it came to including UAFA in CIR. But one thing I did see was that Bernie refused to vote for the legislation that persisted in our exclusion, and Hillary is now bragging about voting for it.

By Melanie Nathan, February 24, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 11.22.18 AMSecretary Hillary Clinton sent an e-mail today that smacks of icky politics. To my way of thinking, it serves only to drive a wedge between Democrats – one that may not serve her well if she turns out to be the Democratic nominee for president. If one is going to state voting record, it must be contextualized, and any failure to do so, amounts to divisive propaganda.

In a campaign e-mail today, Secretary Clinton noted the following:

“In 2007, Senator Ted Kennedy made a valiant effort to pass immigration reform — I stood with him and voted for that bill. Senator Sanders voted against it.”

That is all she had to say about it. But that is not a fair statement, given the history:

Although conservative opposition was the biggest stumbling block to the bi-partisan Bill, there were also divisions on the Left. Only 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and one independent voted to advance the bill, while 15 Democrats joined 37 Republicans and one independent to block it.

The bill was opposed by some labor unions, which said its temporary worker program would have created an underclass of cheap laborers. Immigrant groups opposed measures in the bill that limited migration on the basis of family ties. Now this I can understand may well have fueled a no vote by Bernie.

Washington Examiner:

“There was little mobilization in support of the bill. Organized labor was split. The Service Employees International Union favored a deal. But the larger AFL-CIO opposed guest-worker programs, which were expanded in the bill to win Big Business and GOP support. More strikingly, it lost the support of several pro-immigration groups, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens.

“LULAC cannot support a bill that will separate families and lead to the exploitation of immigrant workers,” said Executive Director Brent Wilkes in a May 2007 statement. In a June 2007, the American Immigration Lawyers Association said it “cannot support enactment of the Senate bill in its current form,” citing no fewer than six major problems.”

“Bernie’s words about his vote against the 2007 Immigration Bill” by Maggie Haberman:

Mr. Sanders replied. “I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it, which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they’re working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they’re thrown out of the country. I was not the only progressive to vote against that legislation for that reason. Tom Harkin, a very good friend of Hillary Clinton’s and mine, one of the leading labor advocates, also voted against that.” He added, “Progressives did vote against that for that reason. My view right now — and always has been — is that when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows.” Six years later, Mr. Sanders again had concerns about a comprehensive immigration bill, in part for the same reason — concern that immigration would keep down wages of American workers. But he voted for it after helping secure a key provision for a $1.5 billion training program for younger workers


Bernie Sanders supported the DREAM Act part of the bill, but opposed the guest worker bit and the downgrading of family reunification. So did one of the United States’ most venerated Latino civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the country’s largest trade union, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. In May 2007, a few weeks before the Senate’s vote, LULAC’s executive director said the group “cannot support a bill that will separate families and lead to the exploitation of immigrant workers while resulting in widespread undocumented immigration in the future.” For its part, the AFL-CIO described the exploitative nature of the guest worker provision to “modern-day Bracero Programs,” referring to the program launched during the Second World War to meet labor demands in the United States — and which lead to the forced deportation of millions of Mexicans, including a few U.S. citizens, from the United States under Operation Wetback beginning in 1954. The American Immigration Lawyers Association called the bill “unworkable,” explaining that “political considerations eventually warped the proposal in ways that would bring more chaos to our immigration system instead of the order and rationality that this bill was intended to restore.” –

LGBT Same-Sex Couples excluded from Immigration Reform in 2007:

However we cannot forget what was the bigger issue for us in the LGBT community, at the time. Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2007 was anything but comprehensive. It was problematic and knowing Bernie, he saw where it hurt. If anything he should have our admiration for holding out especially because it was so exclusionary.

Same-sex binational couples were in great pain. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA,)  the legislation signed by Bill Clinton that prevented same-sex couples from participating in over 1000 Federal rights, stood tall, with one of the most horrendous aspects being the exclusion of same-sex Americans from the right to petition for green cards for partners or spouses. We were being detained, and separated from our loved ones.   Even if we had a legal marriage in another country, and for years thereafter, a legal marriage in the U.S.A., our same-sex binational relationships were excluded from the immigration process.

The 2007 legislation did nothing to include LGBT same-sex couples. I did not see either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders say or do much to help us when it came to including UAFA in CIR. But one thing I did see was that Bernie refused to vote for the legislation that persisted in our exclusion, and Hillary is now bragging about voting for it.

The 2007 attempt at Immigration reform was during the G.W. Bush term, and we knew that no matter what attempts were made by Sen. Leahy to bring amendments for same-sex couples, together with Rep. Jerold Nadler in the House, the Republicans were pandering to the Catholic Bishops and Evangelicals and did all they could to ensure its exclusion. To my way of thing anyone who voted for that Bill, was on their side of the exclusion.

I fact the Catholic Bishops flat out stated that they would not support, even amnesty for 12 million, if the gays were included.

In 2008 when running for President, Clinton noted her support for UAFA, yet was willing to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill the preceding year, without its inclusion, or without any provision to counter the harmful impact of DOMA on same-sex couples trying to petition for the rights to stay together.

As noted in Latino Rebel, by Hector Luis Alama, I share this sentiment, and would have included the failure to protect same-sex couples in my thinking:

Hillary can bash Bernie for voting against the 2007 immigration bill — a bill that would’ve separated families, left immigrants vulnerable to deportation, and created a new class of exploited workers — if she wants. I would’ve voted against it, too. Despite how wrong it seems on the surface, Bernie did the right thing. He must’ve had his doubts at the time. He must’ve wondered if he was on the right side of justice, or if he’d just buried his long progressive record in politics. Still, that Bernie’s capable of taking an unpopular position for the right reasons says more about him than Hillary would like you to know.

One can never be too clean. Surely it is best to refrain from negative campaigning – it will backfire when the truth, by way of full context, is exposed!

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