Published April 18, 2013
Civil Liberties , Congress , Human Rights , Immigration , LGBT rights , Uniting American Families Act , White House
Tags: Bisexual, Gang of 8, Gay, Gender Identity, Human Rights, Immigration, Immigration Equality, Lesbian, LGBT, sexual orientation, Transgender, UAFA, United American Families Act, White House
Repost from Immigration Equality
This afternoon, the long-anticipated comprehensive immigration reform bill from the Senate’s “Gang of 8” will finally be introduced. It is a big, complex piece of legislation that addresses many different immigration issues. Our legal team is hard at work reading the bill and analyzing its many proposals, and what those mean for LGBT immigrants and their families.
We already know, however, some of the high – and low – points of the bill.
The legislation includes a path to citizenship for many undocumented people. It also includes the DREAM Act, which will allow young, undocumented youth (many of whom are LGBT) a path to citizenship as well. Both of these components will help countless immigrants – including LGBT immigrants – finally emerge from the shadows and have an opportunity to fully participate in the life of our country. The bill also includes repeal of the 1-year filing deadline for individuals seeking asylum in the United States, which is a significant obstacle faced by many LGBT asylum seekers. Immigration Equality supports all of these important measures.
As we anticipated, however, the base bill does not include the Uniting American Families Act. (A “base bill” is the first version of the legislation, before any lawmakers have an opportunity to make amendments, or changes, to the language.)
UAFA’s exclusion renders the bill incomplete. It is not comprehensive and is does not reflect the values or diversity of our country. Senators on the Judiciary Committee must allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to add UAFA as an amendment during that process. We need a majority of Committee members to support adding UAFA to the bill. This means the time is NOW to contact Judiciary Committee Senators and demand they vote for UAFA during the amendment process. Continue Reading
Published January 30, 2013
Immigration , LGBT rights , White House
Tags: Bisexual, Gay, Gender Identity, Immigration, Immigration Equality, Lesbian, LGBT, National Center for Lesbian Rights, NCLR, Obama, sexual orientation, Transgender, White House
Repost from The Washington Blade
Before a cheering audience at a Las Vegas high school, President Obama unveiled on Tuesday his much anticipated plan for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a provision aimed at ensuring bi-national same-sex couples can stay together in the United States.
In a speech before supporters at Del Sol High School, Obama emphasized the need to pass comprehensive legislation to fix problems in the U.S. immigration code, but didn’t explicitly mention the provision in his plan that would enable gay Americans to sponsor foreign same-sex partners for residency in the United States.
“I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long,” Obama said. “I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.”
Obama’s plan has four major parts: 1) enhancing border security; 2) cracking down on companies that hire undocumented workers; 3) holding undocumented immigrants “accountable” before they earn citizenship by, among other things, requiring them to pay back taxes with a penalty and learn English; and 4) streamlining the legal immigration system for families, workers and employers.
The president’s commitment to bi-national same-sex couples is found under the fourth pillar of his plan under the heading, “Keep Families Together.” Continue Reading
White House Fact Sheet: Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules
Immigration Equality Praises President’s Proposal in Favor of LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell
John McCain: LGBT Issues ‘Best Way To Derail’ Immigration Bill
Published October 1, 2012
Human Rights , Immigration
Tags: Bisexual, Department of Homeland Security, DHS, Gay, Gender Identity, Human Rights, Immigration, Immigration Equality, Janet Napolitano, Lesbian, LGBT, Rachel Tiven, sexual orientation, Transgender, White House
Repost from The Guardian
Until now, even legally married gay couples were discriminated against in immigration cases. Meaningful reform begins at last
Things seemed grim, last fall, for John Brandoli, a US citizen in Massachusetts, and his Trinidadian husband, Michael. Though their marriage was recognized by the state, it did not come with the benefit they most urgently needed. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), John could not sponsor Michael for a green card.
As a result, Michael was facing deportation to Trinidad, one of the most dangerous places in the hemisphere for gay people. Michael’s American husband and mother-in-law were very anxious when they called my organization, Immigration Equality, for help. Our team – which talks to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants every day – mounted a media and advocacy campaign to stop Michael’s deportation. Thanks to his determined family, and the support of Senator John Kerry, he won.
In August 2011, the Obama administration had announced that couples like Michael and John shouldn’t have to pull out all the stops to stay together. The administration pledged to review pending deportation cases and grant “prosecutorial discretion” to those who had committed no crime and could show equities like ties to an American family. When the administration described the plan on phone calls with press, advocacy groups, and congressional staffers, they stated clearly: “We consider LGBT families to be families in this context.”
This was a watershed. The American immigration system had neverconsidered LGBT families like John and Michael to be families in any context. Until 1990, LGBT foreigners could be barred from entering the US entirely. America’s immigration system is based on family unification, but gay families don’t count. Continue Reading
Repost from The Advocate
by Andrew Harmon
A few days after Christmas last year, Ruby Corado, a longtime transgender activist in Washington, D.C., received a telephone call while watching late-night TV. The number on her iPhone was from Rappahannock Regional Jail, about an hour’s drive south of the nation’s capital in Stafford, Va. Rappahannock is one of more than 200 facilities nationwide that contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house those awaiting a judge’s decision on whether they can remain in the United States or will be deported back to their home country. On any given day, about 32,000 people are held in detention, many for violating immigration law — a civil, not criminal, offense.
Weak and distraught, the transgender woman calling Corado at 11 p.m from Rappahannock was one of them. Her name was Kripcia, and she had been held for eight months in what ICE calls “administrative segregation” — solitary confinement, in nonbureaucratic terms. A native of El Salvador, she was arrested in early 2011 for failure to pay a cab fare. Continue Reading
Published January 24, 2012
Asylum , Immigration
Tags: Department of Homeland Security, Gay, Gender Identity, Government Training, Human Rights, Immigration, Immigration Equality, Lesbian, LGBT, LGBTI asylum, sexual orientation
Repost from Council Member: Immigration Equality
For Immediate Release
January 24, 2012
Contact: Steve Ralls (202) 347-7007 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Immigration Equality Hails New Government Training Module for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Intersex Asylum Claims USCIS Guidance is First Comprehensive LGBTI Training Guide for Asylum Officers
Washington, DC – Immigration Equality, a national legal aid and advocacy organization, hailed today’s release of a newly-created training module, “Guidance for Adjudicating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Refugee and Asylum Claims” by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The guidance, which follows two years of coordination between USCIS and Immigration Equality, instructs asylum officers on substantive aspects of the law and highlights the unique difficulties that LGBTI claimants may experience in articulating their claims for asylum. Continue reading ‘Immigration Equality Hails New Government Training Module’
Repost from The Washington Blade
The Obama administration unveiled on Thursday new immigration policy that could enable many undocumented immigrants facing deportation to stay within the United States — a move that could enable bi-national same-sex couples at the risk of separation to stay together within the country.
Under the new guidance, immigration authorities within the Obama administration will conduct a case-by-case review of the approximately 300,000 undocumented immigrants facing possible deportation to determine which cases are high priority and low priority. Those who have been convicted of crimes or pose a security risk will be a higher priority for deportation, while those who are deemed lower priority will be taken out of the pipeline.
Administration officials will weigh a person’s ties and contributions to the community and family relationships. During an on background conference call with media outlets on Thursday, a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said these criteria are inclusive of LGBT families and same-sex couples. Continue Reading
Much already has been said by others on Arizona’s new law that would allow – no, require – police officers to infringe on civil liberties in an effort to hunt down those who might be in this country illegally. But we have to add our voice to these concerns.
There’s an ugliness about Arizona’s new law that those of us who are gay or transgender find familiar. The law is steeped in the “us versus them” mentality with which our community has struggled for decades – a full-throated determination to shield America from the very diversity that American civil liberties and principles are designed to protect. And claims to the contrary notwithstanding, the law clearly appears to single out a group of people for arbitrary action — something of which our community, too, has been a victim at the local, state, and national levels.
Far worse legislation, of course, has emerged in countries overseas – Uganda’s “anti-gay law,” still pending in that parliament, being perhaps the most current and egregious example. But foreign laws should not be the standard of repulsion. In this country, we are seeking to repeal discriminatory laws and to enact others that would put gay and transgender people on equal footing with other citizens. Those efforts reflect America’s growing understanding that the rights of one part of society cannot be secured at the expense of another. But as we seek these changes, we have every reason to hold our country, and its state components, to higher standards of expectation in how it protects the individual freedoms that all of us hold dear. Surely Arizona’s law falls far, far short of those expectations.
We do not deny the need for comprehensive immigration reform – indeed, the Council is clearly on the record as having encouraged such reform, in an inclusive manner that addresses, too, the needs of LGBT citizens and their families. But that national need in no way can empower individual, misguided, and inappropriate efforts at the state level to take actions that violate the liberties of any class of individuals. Indeed, the very same forces in this country have helped to pass anti-gay measures in a majority of our states. We need comprehensive immigration reform and federal protections for LGBT people, while at the same time vigilantly ensuring the protection of civil and human rights of all individuals in the fifty states. Arizona’s law is an affront to the values that we as a country should protect. It brings shame to that state and should be repealed.