Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Gays and lesbians left at the border in US immigration reform bill

Source: The Bilerico Project

By Joe Mirabella

The LGBT community has been working for immigration reform for years. Our families are regularly split apart because we can not sponsor our foreign born loved ones for citizenship like married heterosexual couples can.

Americans are forced to split up their families or leave this country for more fair minded countries like the UK or Canada when their same gender spouse's green card or visa expires. The policy is inhumane but persists because our Congress enjoys the status quo.

We hoped this issue would be corrected in the forthcoming immigration reform bill in the pipeline for next year. However, because some members of Congress are squeamish about our families, splitting up families will likely continue. Our only hope for an inclusive immigration reform bill is via an amendment, but there is doubt that is very likely either.

ACT on Principles reported:

Here is the problem: The bill is now out of the hands of Equality Caucus and Hispanic Caucus Member Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL-4) and has been passed to its new sponsor, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Founder Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX-27)--who is not even a cosponsor of ENDA or DADT repeal.

Representative Ortiz says that "some Hispanic lawmakers may be uneasy with the same-sex provision for cultural reasons, and they may need more time to weigh it. 'They feel a little uncomfortable. I think that's what it is, to be honest with you,' he said."

Why has this bill been turned over to Representative Ortiz, and taken from the more openly LGBT friendly Representative Gutierrez?

And if that has you worried, there is more that has been uncovered:

The majority of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members are cosponsors of DOMA repeal, 11 out of 21 members to be exact.

In fact it seems Rep. Ortiz is the one who feels "uncomfortable." His HRC scorecard is pathetic. He received a 50% score in 110th Congress, 25% in 109th, and 22% in 108th. Oritz is not even a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, a separate bill which would allow same gender domestic partners or married couples to sponsor their loved ones for citizenship.

The Uniting American Families Act still has a long way to go if it is going to pass. The whip count does not look good:

Sponsors & Cosponsors 117
Leaning Yes 81
Leaning No 207
No 1
Unknown 29

We sure could use a "fierce advocate" in the immigration debate.


Activists disappointed with immigration bill

Source: Windy City Times

by Sam Worley

Immigrant rights and LGBT activists have expressed dismay as a major immigration-reform bill introduced into the U.S. Congress by Rep. Luis Gutierrez failed to include key provisions they had sought.

Chief among these was an allowance for LGBT people to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration—which would, at least in this regard, put gay couples legally on par with heterosexual married couples.

When, earlier this fall, Gutierrez made it clear that he would introduce a progressive immigration-reform bill, groups such as the Association of Latino Men for Action ( ALMA ) hoped to see provisions for same-sex partners included in it. Those provisions are already a part of other legislation pending in Congress, such as the Uniting American Families Act. Congressman Mike Quigley, who represents Illinois' 5th district, said on the House floor in October that no immigration-reform bill could be "comprehensive" without LGBT inclusion.

Local activists met with Gutierrez, whose 4th Congressional district includes sections of Chicago's North and South sides, in October, but weren't able to get a commitment from him then. Though the legislation introduced last week, called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 ( CIR ASAP ) , was praised by the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) as being ambitious and comprehensive, it was also criticized, by the ACLU and others, for not going far enough.

Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, said in a statement that her group was "disappointed" not to see the sought-after provisions—but she said Immigration Equality remained hopeful that Gutierrez, a longtime ally of the LGBT community, would support future measures: " [ W ] e have every expectation that he will continue to work on behalf of our families as lawmakers tackle this critically important issue."

"Obviously, we're disappointed," said ALMA President Julio Rodriguez. "This bill doesn't speak to all families."

Rodriguez said that his group would focus on doing more community education around issues important to LGBT immigrants. "We haven't done a good enough job getting the larger LGBT community behind the immigration bill," he said.

Rodriguez also said that he was looking at other lawmakers, such as Quigley, who might introduce the provision as an amendment when the bill comes to the floor of the House. "Our goal is to try to see if we can re-insert the conversation," he said.

In a statement released to Windy City Times, Gutierrez said, "The process I am committed to being a part of in Congress will, I hope, address the unacceptable situation that lesbian and gay bi-national couples live under every day. … Everyone's goal should be a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a commitment to all families and honors our history as a nation of immigrants. That is my goal, and it is inclusive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, too."

Gutierrez also noted his support for the Uniting American Families Act, which would let U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor their gay and lesbian partners for immigration to the United States. That measure received a local boost in support last week as the Chicago City Council passed a resolution, introduced by Aldermen Tom Tunney and Daniel Solis, urging its passage in the House of Representatives.

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