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Posts Tagged ‘Gay Visa Rights’

21st December 2010

This blog was not very adept at staying on top of the issues surrounding the so-called DREAM Act which would have made a great deal of progress in dealing with issues pertaining to the children of undocumented immigrants wishing to regularize their status in the United States. Recently, it was reported the the DREAM Act legislation was effectively derailed through use of cloture in the United States Senate. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has been working diligently to try to assist in this bill’s passage, but to no avail. To quote directly from the website of AILA:

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is disappointed that, after successful passage in the House, the Senate failed to advance the bipartisan DREAM Act this morning. The legislation did not garner enough votes to overcome a procedural hurdle, even though with 55 votes it had the support of a majority of the chamber’s lawmakers.

“It was with a heavy heart that I watched the DREAM Act deferred to yet another Congress. After the historic House victory and the tremendous outpouring of grassroots support for this legislation that would help deserving young people, today’s failed cloture vote is a wrong-headed dénouement,” said AILA President David Leopold who watched the legislative proceedings from Capitol Hill.

“It was sad to see some U.S. Senators putting politics before principles to vote no on cloture, thereby attaching their names to the wrong side of history. The DREAM Act did not pass today, but inevitably it will be law.”

The DREAM Act’s failure is disappointing for many, but there are those who still believe that the most pressing issue in the realm of United States Immigration is that of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Passage of this legislation would alleviate the current restrictions placed upon same sex or LGBT bi-national couples who wish to be reunited in the USA. Under the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) same sex couples, even those lawfully married in a jurisdiction within the United States of America, cannot obtain the same family based visa benefits compared to their different sex counterparts. There are many who seem to feel somewhat frustrated by the fact that other legislation such as the DREAM Act has gained traction on Capitol Hill while legislation such as UAFA, or legislation which includes  UAFA-like language, has not garnered such substantial support. To quote from a posting posted prior to the DREAM Act’s Senate vote by Melanie Nathan on the Lezgetreal.com blog:

The US has yet to enact laws that will prevent gay and lesbian couples from having to exile to stay with foreign partners or from partners facing deportation.  The discrimination in the USA is based on the fact that same-sex partners are specifically excluded from Federal rights – such as the right to sponsor a spouse for a green card, because of the Defense of Marriage Act. (DOMA)

There are some who would argue that DOMA violates the notions of state sovereignty and individual civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights by depriving US Immigration benefits to LGBT couples while granting them to different sex couples. Bearing this in mind, it ought to be noted that the States’ Rights arguments in favor of overturning DOMA became much more potent after some American States began recognizing and solemnizing same sex unions. There are some who feel that the final decision in this matter may ultimately be made by the US Supreme Court as cases are currently proceeding through the US judicial system which could overturn DOMA. It still remains to be seen whether DOMA will remain in force, be circumvented through use of UAFA, or be overturned by the US Courts. In any case, there are many who hope that some sort of solution arrives soon as many bi-national families remain separated as a result of DOMA’s continued enforcement.

For related information please see: LGBT Visa.

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23rd July 2010

This blog routinely posts information regarding LGBT Immigration and announcements regarding the campaign for equal immigration rights for same-sex bi-national couples. In a recent blog posting on the Stonewall Democrats blog, it was announced that members of the United States House of Representatives are continuing to call for equal immigration rights for same-sex as well as different-sex couples. To quote directly from the blog:

Supporters of immigration and LGBT rights are renewing their calls on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year that includes protections for bi-national same-sex couples.
At a press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill, several U.S. House members emphasized the importance of passing legislation to make the nation’s immigration laws more fair and enable LGBT Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States.
The strengthened call for passing comprehensive immigration reform comes as limited time remains in the legislative calendar for this Congress, raising questions about whether lawmakers will be able to address major legislation such as immigration reform this year.
Same-sex partners currently have no recourse under any portion of family law in the U.S. immigration code. The policy threatens to keep an estimated 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples from remaining together in the United States.
Among those who spoke in favor of passing immigration reform inclusive of this language is Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who sponsors the Uniting American Families Act, a standalone bill that would address the situation for LGBT families.
Nadler said passing immigration reform that includes protections for the LGBT community is “absolutely essential.”
“In particular, binational LGBT couples must be granted the right to sponsor their permanent partners for immigration, just as other committed and straight married couples can,” he said.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), the sponsor of another UAFA-inclusive bill known as the Reuniting Familes Act, also addressed the importance of passing such legislation.
Honda said “ending discrimination” against bi-national same-sex couples is “in line with American values and is good for our economy.”
“We know that American workers who have family by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed with this essential social safety net,” he said.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a pro-immigrant lawmaker, said passing inclusive legislation is politically viable.
“On a more political note, I am confident that we can pass immigration reform that includes the provisions of UAFA this year,” Gutierrez said, according to his prepared remarks. “Including UAFA makes the tent that much bigger and makes the coalition that much stronger.”
Late last year, Gutierrez introduced immigration legislation that was seen as a more liberal alternative to the working bill expected for introduction in Congress. Although his legislation at the time didn’t include UAFA-like language, he recently revealed his support for including bi-national LGBT families as part of immigration reform.
Other lawmakers who appeared at Thursday’s event to show their support for such legislation were Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a gay lawmaker and proponent of immigration reform, as well as Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).
Erwin de Leon, a gay D.C. resident and Blade contributor, also called for UAFA-inclusive legislation at the press conference.
He said passage of such a bill would help him obtain a green card to remain in the United States with his spouse, whom he married earlier this year in D.C.
“Thanks to vagaries of the U.S. immigration system, I still do not have my green card, even though I consider the United States my home, have lived here legally for several years and in my heart know that I am as American as my native-born cousins,” he said.
Along with lawmakers, a coalition of 37 organizations — including LGBT, immigration and faith-based groups — joined in the the chorus of voices calling on Congress to act on immigration reform.
Immigration Equality, one of the organizations working to pass UAFA, is a leading voice among these groups. Other LGBT groups in this coalition include the Family Equality Council, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign.
Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality’s executive director, said current law is taking LGBT families “and sending them into exile.”
“Together we will fight for immigration reform that protects all families,” she said. “We will organize, we will protest, we will demand that the Uniting American Families Act and the Reuniting Families Act be part of a just, humane and comprehensive immigration reform bill.”
Still, challenges remain in passing UAFA-inclusive legislation. Patrick Egan, a gay political science professor at New York University, said the chances of Congress passing reform inclusive of LGBT families are “pretty low.”
“It’s going to be very difficult to get the 60 votes together in the Senate to move the bill forward and they’re going to be reluctant to put anything in there that jeopardizes its passage,” Egan said. “And this, unfortunately, is one of those issues that can cause you to shed a few votes on the Republican side. And I would be very surprised if that would be in any bill that gets passed by the Senate and the House.”
Sean Theriault, a gay government professor at the University of Texas, Austin, said “there is no chance” that an immigration bill immigration reform will pass this year whether or not it includes UAFA-like language.
“The reason that Democratic leaders and the White House have begun talking about immigration is because it divides Republicans from Hispanics,” he said. “On that score alone, the bill very well may contain [this] language. It is easy to be in favor of wholesale reform when the chances of it passing our zilch.”
Still, Theriault said if Democrats had to start making concessions to pass immigration reform, he couldn’t imagine “they would sacrifice the entire bill for inclusive language.”
Capitol Hill observers expect the U.S. Senate to debate and vote on comprehensive immigration reform legislation before a bill is taken up in the U.S. House. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chair of the Senate Judiciary immigration subcommittee, is expected to introduce the legislation in the Senate.
While the Senate bill has yet to be introduced, framework for the legislation made public earlier this year shows support for passing a bill inclusive of LGBT families.
In a brief interview with the Blade on Capitol Hill late last month, Schumer noted the UAFA language was in the framework for immigration reform legislation. Asked whether the provision would be in the bill upon introduction, Schumer replied, “I believe so.”
“I believe in it and I want to see it stay in,” Schumer said.
Asked when he would introduce the legislation, Schumer replied, “We have the proposal and we’re still trying to get some Republican support.”
Schumer said he’s talking to several Republican senators who would be original co-sponsors for the legislation, but declined to identify any lawmakers.
Although no U.S. senator attended Thursday’s press conference, Tiven said advocates wanted to emphasize the support of U.S. House members for UAFA-inclusive legislation.
“We wanted to show what the House is doing to match the Senate’s leadership on inclusive comprehensive immigration reform,” she said.
Julie Kruse, policy director for Immigration Equality, said her organization is planning additional events throughout the country to draw attention to passing UAFA-inclusive comprehensive immigration legislation.
She said cities in Florida, California, Texas, New York and Minnesota are potential places where these events would take place.

Supporters of immigration and LGBT rights are renewing their calls on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year that includes protections for bi-national same-sex couples.  At a press conference Thursday on Capitol Hill, several U.S. House members emphasized the importance of passing legislation to make the nation’s immigration laws more fair and enable LGBT Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States.  The strengthened call for passing comprehensive immigration reform comes as limited time remains in the legislative calendar for this Congress, raising questions about whether lawmakers will be able to address major legislation such as immigration reform this year.  Same-sex partners currently have no recourse under any portion of family law in the U.S. immigration code. The policy threatens to keep an estimated 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples from remaining together in the United States.  Among those who spoke in favor of passing immigration reform inclusive of this language is Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who sponsors the Uniting American Families Act, a standalone bill that would address the situation for LGBT families.  Nadler said passing immigration reform that includes protections for the LGBT community is “absolutely essential.”  “In particular, binational LGBT couples must be granted the right to sponsor their permanent partners for immigration, just as other committed and straight married couples can,” he said. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), the sponsor of another UAFA-inclusive bill known as the Reuniting Familes Act, also addressed the importance of passing such legislation.  Honda said “ending discrimination” against bi-national same-sex couples is “in line with American values and is good for our economy.”

Frequent readers of the blog will recall the the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is considered to be a key piece of legislation for those Americans seeking immigration benefits for their same sex foreign partner.

It should be noted that many States in the USA have either promulgated legislation legalizing same sex marriage or creating civil unions for same sex partners. However, notwithstanding the fact that same sex marriages may be solemnized and recognized by a State, the Federal government, based upon legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), refuses to recognize these marriages for purposes of awarding immigration benefits. Therefore, as of the time of this writing, there is no “Same Sex Visa” accorded to LGBT bi-national couples. However, there are currently cases pending in the US Courts which may overturn this practice as many feel that this type of discrimination violates States’ Rights as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. However, the ultimate adjudication of these issues may have to be addressed by the United States Supreme Court if legislation is not promulgated which would grant equal immigration benefits to the same sex partner of a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.

For further details about US visas for different-sex couples please see: K1 visa.

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