Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘UAFA News’

18th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some have been discussing tactics underlying the overall political strategy pertaining to passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a recently introduced piece of legislation by Representative Jerrold Nadler designed essentially to circumvent the current prohibition of Federal recognition for same sex marriages. Such marital unions are currently legalized and/or solemnized by multiple sovereign American States as well as the District of Columbia. To quote directly from the article No Republicans, No News posted on the website UnitingAmericanFamilies.Net:

The UAFA-related blogosphere is alive with reports of the bill being re-introduced into Congress. This will seem like a wet blanket, but my jaded response is… so what? The bill (and its predecessor) has been introduced into every subsequent Congress since the year 2000, and it has never come close to passing.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers click upon the hyperlinks above to read more from the enlightening piece.

Of especial interest to this blogger was the analysis of the current political predicament facing proponents of UAFA or a bill, such as the Reuniting Families Act, which utilizes UAFA-like language. To quote further from the aforementioned article:

It’s no longer the Dems who need to be convinced. We will NOT get our basic human rights until we start to convince Republicans — whether right-wing, Tea-Party, or “moderate” (if such a thing still exists). It’s a simple game of numbers.

This is an insightful notion as it is so acutely correct. The way for the LGBT Community, same sex bi-national couples, and anyone else who is a victim of government discrimination based upon sexual orientation to effect change is through gaining broad based, possibly bi-partisan, support (under the circumstances the word “bi-partisan” simply does not seem accurate as this truly is an issue of personal liberty and not party ideology). Importantly, supporters of UAFA and bills similar to UAFA have one relatively new political “arrow” in their “quivers” and that arrow is States’ Rights. The 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution reserves certain rights to the Several Sovereign States. Marriage, and the licensure thereof, has traditionally been viewed as a purely intraState matter. Therefore, when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came into conflict with State policies such as those currently maintained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issues surrounding the 10th Amendment came to the foreground of the debate.

The fate of DOMA, UAFA, the Reuniting Families Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act remains to be seen, but one thing is clear, at least in this blogger’s personal opinion: the issue of same sex marriage may become one of those issues that, in politics, is truly a “game changer”.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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3rd February 2011

While online this blogger came across an interesting article regarding same sex marriage in the United States of America and the campaign to equalize marital rights for same sex couples. It would appear that Ms. Barbara Bush (no, not the former First Lady, but her granddaughter) has come out in favor of marriage equality. To quote directly from an article written by Candace Chellew-Hodge posted on the website religiondispatches.org:

First, it was Arizona Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan who came out as a young Republican in full support of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Now, the youngest daughter of former President George W. Bush is—like her mother Laura before her—publicly proclaiming her support for marriage equality. In a video released this week by the Human Rights Campaign, Barbara Bush, proclaims herself “a New Yorker for marriage equality.”

It is interesting to note that the issue of marriage equality does not seem to conjure up the same sort of reaction from members of different generations. Where at one time, the issue of same sex marriage and LGBT rights were once quite controversial, especially within the Republican Party, now it would appear that more cooler heads are prevailing on the subject as even religious people who have personal issues with the practice understand that personal liberty and the right to be with people that one loves are fundamental to both the human experience and the American Dream. However, not everyone feels the same way as a further quote from the aforementioned website points out:

Over at Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, blogger Jenny Tyree isn’t surprised at Ms. Bush and Ms. McCain’s support for marriage equality. “It’s rather easy for 20-somethings—or millennials—to jump on the very tidy-looking ‘rights’ bandwagon that proponents of same-sex marriage have made marriage to be,’ she writes, rightly observing that the majority of people aged 18-29 support marriage equality.

Those reading this posting are well advised to go to religiondispatches.org to read the story in its entirety. That said, first, it should be noted that this blogger, a twenty-something, albeit a late twenty-something, himself, hates the use of the term “Millennials” when describing the generation of Americans coming of age in the new millennium. The reason for the dislike of this label stems more from the fact that it makes such people sound like flowers which bloom on a yearly basis rather than a smart savvy generation who can clearly articulate their opinions on a wide array of issues, but this is a digression.

Of interest to those seeking information regarding United States Immigration law is the fact that under the current legal framework of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the Federal government refuses to recognize the validity of same sex marriage notwithstanding the fact that 5 Sovereign US States currently recognize and solemnize such unions. There are many who would argue that this legislation is unconstitutional on its face as it completely abrogates the States’ prerogatives with regard to marriages conducted within their jurisdiction. Furthermore, it is this blogger’s opinion that this current practice violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution as well as depriving individuals of their right to equal protection under the US Constitution and the rights conferred under the theory of “substantive due process.” In an immigration context, there have been moves in the US Congress to deal with the issue of same sex bi-national couples. Most notable have been Representative Jerrold Nadler’s attempts to gain passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would create a US Visa category for “permanent partners” of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. As of the time of this writing, this legislation has yet to be passed.

Under the government’s view of the law, bi-national same sex couples are not allowed to obtain US family visa benefits equal to those of their different-sex counterparts as doing so would be a violation of DOMA. Hopefully, with the support of a new generation of Americans these issues will be rectified and same sex couples will be afforded the same Constitutional liberties and immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts.

Fore related information please see: Permanent Partner Visas.

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30th December 2010

In an interesting recent turn of events LGBT Equal Rights advocates have seen many political victories in recent weeks. This blogger came across and interesting article on the website Wikinews.org, to quote directly from Wikinews:

Friday, December 24, 2010

In an interview on the United States television show Good Morning America today, U.S. vice president Joe Biden said that a positive consensus on same-sex marriage is “inevitable” as the country “evolves.”

“[There is] inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage. I think the country’s evolving. And I think you’re going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so-called DOMA,” said Biden.

For those who are unfamiliar with the issues surrounding the struggle for LGBT Equal Rights the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently bars the United States Federal government from recognizing same sex marriage (or any other sort of same sex civil union). The Federal government, pursuant to the provisions of DOMA, is not even permitted to recognize those same sex marriages which are legalized and solemnized pursuant to an American State’s law. Currently, 5 US States allow some form of same sex marriage or civil union. For Immigration purposes, DOMA is a significant piece of legislation as it forces the American Federal government to restrict family immigration benefits to different sex couples. The product of these circumstances as they sit now is a situation in which many bi-national couples are separated from each other by borders, and sometimes oceans. Wikinews.org went on:

Biden’s remarks come just days after U.S. president Barack Obama signed into law, the repeal of Don’t ask, don’t tell (DADT). The repeal, which was signed by Obama on Thursday, will now allow gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in the country’s military, without fear that they will be discharged form service. A report by The Pentagon earlier this month concluded most U.S. service personnel do not believe reform of the rules on gays and lesbians serving in the military would affect morale, unit cohesion or military effectiveness. The report found only 30% believed that changing the law would have a negative effect. DADT, in effect for 17 years, was repealed by the United States Senate on Saturday. The military will cease enforcement of the policy in 60 days time, after the Pentagon has certified to Congress that it, and the military are ready to implement the new law.[sic]

The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a significant step forward for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals, but full equality under the law has yet to materialize especially as DOMA remains in place thereby precluding family immigration benefits for LGBT couples. Some lawmakers have attempted to draft legislation to deal directly with the issue of discrimination of bi-national same sex couples for immigration purposes. In recent years, legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been introduced to allow “permanent partners” of American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents to obtain immigration benefits similar to those granted to different-sex spouses of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. This blogger recently came upon an interesting webpage pertaining to this issue on the website logcabin.org, the official website of the Log Cabin Republicans, to quote directly from said webpage:

The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), pending in Congress, would end the discrimination against gays and lesbians in immigration laws by allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration benefits. The version of the bill introduced in the House last February (H.R.1024) currently has 116 cosponsors, while the Senate version (S. 424) has 22 cosponsors. In addition, the Reuniting Families Act (H.R.2709) also includes UAFA as a provision of the larger immigration bill.

While some groups hostile to immigration fear that the UAFA would open the floodgates to massive immigration, such fears are unfounded. It would grant residency only to those foreign nationals involved in a financially interdependent permanent partnership with a U.S. citizen. Many of these individuals have already been living in the U.S. for years on special work or student visas and have been contributing to American society. In any event, the administrative checks that ensure that heterosexual couples applying for residency are not involved in a “sham” relationship will do the same for gay and lesbian couples. The measure is simply not a conduit for unfettered immigration.

There would seem to have been some speculation that passage of an UAFA-like piece of legislation would result in an explosion of fraudulent visa applications submitted by those wishing to take advantage of what appears, at first glance, to be a new avenue for seeking immigration benefits through use of a “sham” relationship. In this authors opinion, it is highly unlikely that passage of UAFA-like legislation would result in a significant increase in immigration fraud as the United States government currently has a very sophisticated system in place which is designed to root out immigration fraud at multiple levels of the immigration system and at multiple phases of the overall United States immigration process.

Hopefully, as Vice President Biden noted above, a “positive consensus” on this issue can be reached with the end result being the unification of bi-national families in America.

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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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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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