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Posts Tagged ‘Same Sex Bi-National Visa’

11th October 2010

The issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is frequently discussed on this blog as it could be one of the most significant issues of the forthcoming legislative sessions as so many individuals could be impacted by changes to the laws upon which the American Immigration system is based. With that in mind, this author discovered an interesting question and answer session between members of the American press and President Barack Obama. The following is a direct quotation from the transcript of this Q & A session as posted upon the American Immigration Lawyers Association website. To quote the transcript and the President directly:

I have consistently, even before I was a presidential candidate, but when I was a U.S. senator and when I was running for U.S. senator, said that we have to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.

Bill Richardson and I have had a lot of conversations about this. This is a nation of immigrants. It was built on immigrants — immigrants from every corner of the globe who brought their talent and their drive and their energy to these shores because this was the land of opportunity. Now, we’re also a nation of laws so we’ve got to make sure that our immigration system is orderly and fair. And so I think Americans have a legitimate concern if the way we’ve set up our immigration system and the way we are securing our borders is such where people just kind of come and go as they please, well, that means that folks who are waiting, whether it’s in Mexico City or in Nairobi, Kenya, or in Warsaw, Poland — if they’re waiting there filling out their forms and doing everything legally and properly and it takes them five years or six years or 10 years before they’re finally here and made legal, well, it’s not fair to them if folks can just come and ignore those laws.

So what we — I think is so important to do is for us to both be a nation of laws and affirm our immigrant traditions. And I think we can do that. So what I’ve said is, look, yes, let’s secure our borders; yes, let’s make sure that the legal immigration system is more fair and efficient than it is right now because if the waiting times were lessened then a lot of people would be more prone to go through a legal route than through an illegal route; let’s make sure that we’re cracking down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers to not pay them overtime or not pay them minimum wage or not give them bathroom breaks; let’s make sure that we’re cracking down on employers to treat all workers fairly. And let’s provide a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here, understanding that they broke the law, so they’re going to have to pay a fine and pay back taxes and I think learn English, make sure that they don’t have a criminal record. There are some hoops that they’re going to have to jump through, but giving them a pathway is the right thing to do.

Now, unfortunately, right now this is getting demagogued. A lot of folks think it’s an easy way to score political points is by trying to act as if there’s a “them” and an “us,” instead of just an “us.” And I’m always suspicious of politics that is dividing people instead of bringing them together. I think now is the time for us to come together. And I think that economically, immigrants can actually be a huge source of strength to the country. It’s one of our big advantages is we’ve got a younger population than Europe, for example, or Japan, because we welcome immigrants and they generally don’t. And that means that our economy is more vital and we’ve got more people in the workforce who are going to be out there working and starting businesses and supporting us when we’re retired, and making sure Social Security is solvent. All those things are important.

So this is a priority that I continue to have. Frankly, the problem I’ve had right now is that — and I don’t want to get into sort of inside baseball by Washington. But basically the rules in the United States Senate have evolved so that if you don’t have 60 votes, you can’t get anything through the United States Senate right now. And several years ago, we had 11 Republican senators who were willing to vote for comprehensive immigration reform, including John McCain. They’ve all reversed themselves. I can’t get any of them to cooperate. And I don’t have 60 Democrats in the Senate.

And so we’re going to have to do this on a bipartisan basis. And my hope is, is that the Republicans who have said no and have seen their party I think use some unfortunate rhetoric around this issue, my hope is, is that they come back and say, you know, this is something that we can work on together to solve a problem instead of trying to score political points. Okay?

One major concern voiced by those making visa petitions and applications outside of the United States is that of the seeming inequities posed by the possibility of some sort of an amnesty for undocumented aliens currently in the United States. Many prospective immigrants feel that it is somewhat unjust to allow those who broke immigration rules at the outset to be granted a benefit while those waiting for their visa petition or application to process through various agencies and Departments are not accorded any special treatment while they assiduously obey relevant American Immigration laws. When one ponders this situation it would seem rather obvious that the current system is in need of reform, but as the President’s remarks imply, the problem is multi-faceted and cannot be solved quickly or easily as so many individuals and organizations have considerable interests which could be effected by a change to current US Immigration laws, regulations, and policies. Hopefully, some sort of framework can be devised which will deal with the plight of undocumented aliens while maintaining some sort of equitable position for those who chose not to travel to the USA without proper documentation.

Meanwhile, there are many who hope that any Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation will address the issues associated with same-sex bi-national couples who wish to enjoy immigration benefits equal to those of their different-sex counterparts. In the past, legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) was introduced in an effort to remedy the current restrictions imposed by provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), but such legislation has yet to be passed by the American Congress. It was recently announced that a bill proposed in the US Senate would address CIR issues and includes language designed to redress the discrimination imposed upon LGBT couples by DOMA. Although it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved many are hopeful that Comprehensive Immigration Reform will redress many of the inequities arising from the current state of US law pertaining to immigration.

For related information please see: Comprehensive Immigration Reform or Same Sex Bi-National Visa.

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