Time for Fair and Just Immigration – for Everyone
By: Ameesha Sampat,Communications and Operations Coordinator, Immigration Equality
Follow Immigration Equality at @IEquality.
At the inauguration, we heard President Obama talk about the urgent need to reform our immigration system. We heard him speak with the same vigor about LGBT families and our place in American history. A week later, Senate and the President presented their visions for comprehensive immigration reform. One thing is certain: Now is the time our families have been waiting for. Now is the time to fix a system that has torn apart families, and fix it for everyone.
Diego Gutierrez and Manny are a couple from California who became domestic partners four years ago. Manny is a U.S. citizen and Diego was out of status at the time, after coming to the United States from Mexico with his family at 8 years old. When Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was granted, Diego was finally able to obtain a work permit. “Like many other Dreamers, I struggled under U.S. immigration law and had to break out of two closets: the LGBT closet and the undocumented closet,” Diego says of the experience.
As a same-sex mixed-status binational couple, comprehensive immigration reform is an issue that both are passionate about. And like other same-sex binational couples, although Manny is a U.S. citizen, he has no way to sponsor a green card for his partner. If they were a heterosexual couple, Manny could sponsor Diego for a green card through a marriage-based application. “I know that young people want to live in a fair and just society,” says Diego. We have the once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix a broken immigration system, and we must fix it for every family that fears separation, and insist on immigration equality for all individuals, “regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or HIV status.”
Fortunately, we have significant allies pushing for our families. In a meeting with progressive leaders at the White House last week, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to his immigration proposal, which “treats same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same-sex partner.” At the same time, Congressman Nadler (D-NY) re-introduced the Uniting American Families Act in the 113th Congress. UAFA would allow gay and lesbian Americans the right to sponsor their permanent partners for legal residency, just as heterosexual couples currently can under immigration law. Senator Leahy (D-VT) is expected to introduce the same legislation in the Senate. Immigration Equality has been working to secure equal rights for same-sex binational couples with allies like Representative Nadler and Senator Leahy for almost 20 years, and it is difficult to express just how far we have come in that time. With a President who has openly voiced his support for LGBT families on various occasions and a Congress that is eager to rebuild an immigration system that is inarguably broken, we’ve arrived at a unique moment where it is possible to achieve what all our country’s immigrant families are really asking for: a fair and just immigration system.
In this critical moment, we are proud to stand with the President, with the Senators and Congress people who are pushing LGBT-inclusive legislation, with businesses as well as faith leaders who recognize that our families need the same protections as every other family, with organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens, United We Dream, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, and so many more, to achieve truly comprehensive and humane immigration reform. Our community is ready and eager to push hard for immigration reform for all families. This is our moment – and we’re ready to win.
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Sign LULAC's "I Voted for Immigration Reform" Campaign to let Congress know immigration reform is a priority at LULAC.org/CIR2013.