Immigration Equality Stands in Solidarity with DC Fasters
By Ameesha Sampat on 12/06/2013 @ 12:09 PM
Today, Immigration Equality joins in solidarity with the Fast4Families. We are fasting today to amplify the national call for Congress to act on immigration reform. We honor the courageous faith, immigrant, and labor leaders who are abstaining from sustenance for weeks on end. May their sacrifice move decision-makers to act for the good of our country and bring the immigration bill to the House floor.
We asked Immigration Equality staff to share their reasons for joining the fast for immigration reform today:
Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director
Fasting is a core of religious practice in so many traditions, including my own. How potent that we are joining in solidarity today not with "hunger strikers," but rather with our brothers and sisters who are fasting for American families. If our nation trusts in God as it claims to, will the House act to make us truly one nation?
Trina Olson, Deputy Director
I am making the choice to fast today to call attention to the fact that Congress’ inaction on immigration reform is also a choice. We need reform and we need it now!
Win Chesson, Development Director
Today I'm joining the fast for immigration reform to honor every person who has called Immigration Equality's hotline for help navigating a broken immigration system.
Aaron Morris, Legal Director
Today, I am joining my fellow immigration advocates to demand that Congress address immigration reform.
Ameesha Sampat, Media Manager
I’m fasting to call attention to the suffering and sacrifice faced by so many immigrants in our country. In my work at Immigration Equality, I encourage our clients to tell their stories, and hopefully inspire change through sharing their experiences. Many of these are people who have fled their home countries after unthinkable abuse and violence to seek safety in the US, only to suffer further hardship due to aspects of our immigration system that criminalize them or ignore their needs. I stand by them and the DC fasters to demand just and compassionate immigration reform.
Clement Lee, Detention Staff Attorney
I’m fasting on behalf of Immigration Equality’s detained LGBT clients, whose health too often deteriorates in an existence consisting of barbed wire, solitary confinement, and shackles. Throughout my career at Immigration Equality, I’ve watched my clients in detention turn unhealthy shades of pale grey, rapidly lose weight, and grow sick with worry and fear as they face possible deportation to a country where they will be killed for being queer. A single day of reflection and fasting is minimal compared to the severe restrictions our clients in immigration detention suffer to their freedom of movement and right to bodily integrity. With our detained LGBT clients and the advocates who represent them, I stand in solidarity.
Christina Pena, Asylum Paralegal
I’m fasting on behalf of asylum seekers held in solitary confinement on account of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Every month I take calls from petrified detained asylum seekers who have spent days, weeks, and sometimes months in confinement. I look forward to a day when the voice I hear on the other side of the line is that of someone who is safe and sound, living outside of the degrading, inhumane conditions of immigration detention. I urge our elected officials to also stand in solidarity with them and pass comprehensive immigration reform now.
Kathryn Baxter, Legislative Assistant
I'm fasting for all the families who are separated by our country's immigration laws. I believe in keeping families together. It’s what led me to my work at Immigration Equality and it’s what I will keeping working for until we pass just immigration reform.
Marco Quiroga, Grassroots Organizer
This Friday, I fast for my gay little brother — who was deported and has been separated from my family for over 8 years — in the hopes that one day we will be reunited. I fast for my mother who single-handedly struggled for over 25 years to keep my family together in the US, who is denied a path to citizenship, and at any moment can be taken away from me. I fast for all the vulnerable members of our community and their families who are suffering because of the broken politics that result in broken families and broken lives - the time for immigration reform is now.
Michael Sisitzky, Staff Attorney
I am fasting because the longer it takes Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the more families will be torn apart.
Michelle Gonzalez, Cardozo Immigration Justice Fellow
I am fasting because our immigration system criminalizes the working poor and separates families. I am fasting because we need reform now. In solidarity. En la lucha.
LGBT Groups Stand for Dignity and Respect
By Julie Kruse on 10/04/2013 @ 04:30 PM
Tomorrow, October 5, marks the National Day of Dignity and Respect. Across the country, immigrant, faith, labor, and civil rights groups will join together to call on Congress to pass common sense immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.
Over ninety local, state, and national LGBT and allied organizations signed onto a letter led by Immigration Equality Action Fund in support of the day and of immigration reform that will help LGBT immigrants in our community. In addition to supporting comprehensive immigration reform, the letter opposes the SAFE Act, which would eliminate protections for immigrants – including LGBT immigrants – and especially LGBT asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home country.
An excerpt from the letter:
“As we celebrate [a] landmark win for LGBT immigrant families, we are working to fix the immigration system for all LGBT immigrants. We urgently need immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented LGBT immigrants, including LGBT DREAMers – young people who are doubly vulnerable for being undocumented and LGBT. We need reforms for LGBT and HIV-positive people seeking asylum in the U.S. because they face persecution and violence in their home countries, including many who are needlessly suffering in immigration detention. For these members of our community, the continued need for immigration reform is real and urgent.”
Immigration Equality and our allies will also be at the New York City March for Dignity and Respect. Are you in NYC? Join us! Can’t come to NYC? Check out the events happening in over 90 cities across the country here.
By Julie Kruse on 09/19/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Home is at the heart of comprehensive immigration reform. It’s about aspiring Americans who call this country home and seek to build a stable life here. Sign our petition supporting comprehensive immigration reform and tell Congress that you support an America where LGBT immigrants – and all immigrants – can call the United States home!
For asylum seekers fleeing anti-LGBT brutality, home is an especially meaningful thing. It means escaping a life of threats, violence, and persecution and finally finding a stable and safe place to call home. No one knows this better than Gleb, a gay man from Russia who was violently assaulted at a gay night club and then began receiving death threats from his attackers. One night he was brutally beaten as his attackers screamed anti-gay hate speech at him – an attack which left him in the hospital with skull damage. The Russian police completely ignored the assault. Thankfully, through Immigration Equality, Gleb won his asylum case and has now made a new home in the US.
Our legal team works on cases like these one by one, but we need Congress to act to fix the broad issues that affect these brave asylum seekers. Strong immigration reform will make our clients safer and will make it easier for the people we speak to every day to build new, safe lives here in the US.
Immigration Equality’s March on Washington: Our Cause Endures and the Dream Lives On
By Marco Quiroga on 08/28/2013 @ 11:30 AM
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the historic “March on Washington”, where we at Immigration Equality had the chance to honor civil rights movement leaders who have taught us crucial lessons and have brought us ever closer to passing common-sense immigration reform this year. As an organization that serves some of the most vulnerable within the LGBT community, we marched with fellow civil and human rights groups as one and the same in our common struggle for equality.
Some may think of the LGBT and immigrant communities as separate, but there are approximately 270,000 undocumented LGBT immigrants who share these identities and desperately need immigration reform now. As a gay undocumented immigrant who would benefit from a pathway to citizenship and a strong DREAM Act, I know this firsthand, and I will not stop fighting until every immigrant is treated with dignity and has access to a fair and just immigration system. Our struggle to ensure millions of aspiring Americans, including undocumented LGBT immigrants, can walk the path to citizenship and become full members of our democracy is why we march. As we look back to the last 50 years and the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, we must remember the consequences of “separate but equal” and racially charged legislations of the past. We need the House of Representatives to honor what we’ve learned and lift hundreds of thousands of our LGBT undocumented immigrant brothers and sisters, relegated to living in fear, out of the dark shadows of our society.
The LGBT community absolutely has a stake in immigration reform – my family and I are proof of that. We stand side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in the immigration reform movement to demand a pathway to citizenship and continue to fight for provisions that are critical for LGBT asylum seekers and vulnerable LGBT people in immigration detention. The time to act is now. We are honored to be a part of a larger coalition pushing civil and human rights forward for everyone and we continue our march in the struggle for dignity and justice our LGBT immigrant community deserves. Fight with us as we once again make history together this year.
Rachel's in Jail
By Meghan Austin on 08/22/2013 @ 02:30 PM
Today, Executive Director Rachel B. Tiven and other Immigration Equality staffers joined a nationwide act of civil disobedience. Together with activists and faith leaders, they locked arms to block the entrance of Varick Street Detention Center to protest the House of Representatives’ inaction on immigration reform. These groups stood with us in the spring to demand LGBT inclusion – now we stand with them to say our work isn’t done.
A few minutes ago, Rachel and paralegal Christina were arrested.
While Rachel’s in jail, let’s make sure her voice gets heard. Dial the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, let them know where you live, and ask to speak to your House Representative. The message is: I am waiting for you to take action and pass immigration reform.
As Rachel pointed out, an afternoon in jail is a minor inconvenience compared to the months that LGBT immigrants spend in immigration detention. Immigration detention is civil detention, but it’s essentially jail, and often worse than jail. LGBT immigrants are humiliated and abused every day in immigration detention, too often in solitary confinement. Immigration Equality helps many individuals, but we need Congress to change the system.
As an American in a binational couple, I look forward to someday sponsoring my partner for a green card. But I won’t stop fighting until all LGBT immigrants have the freedom and safety they need.
That’s why Rachel is in jail right now, and that’s why I’m calling my Representative this afternoon. Join me. Let’s tell the House: LGBT people want immigration reform.
DC Celebrates Green Cards for Binational Couples
By Kate Huffman on 08/02/2013 @ 04:00 PM
The Immigration Equality team raised Equalitinis to our DC-area families this week, some of whom had filed their marriage petitions earlier that day. A world map covered in pictures of loving couples showed us the impact of the Supreme Court's ruling around the world.
Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Mike Honda, who led the House fight for binational couples, were in the celebratory mood, too. Congressman Nadler spoke eloquently of the service that our families have done to our country by speaking out, being themselves, and ultimately changing hearts and minds. "Edie Windsor’s win is your victory, too," he said.
Congressman Honda raised his glass to our families and shared a warm hug with newlywed binational couple Angel and Mark, one of the night’s many tender moments.
Keeping an eye towards Immigration Equality’s ongoing and future work, we heard the inspiring story of Oliver, an Immigration Equality client who successfully won asylum in the United States. It was amazing to hear the support from the room full of binational couples as they applauded him. His story — of escaping a home country where he was unsafe because of his sexual orientation, to seek asylum in the US — exemplifies the critical services and advocacy that Immigration Equality will continue to provide for LGBT people from around the world seeking a safe haven in the United States.
As my summer as a policy intern winds down, this week’s event crystallized the reasons why I will continue to follow and support Immigration Equality’s work moving forward. Under the leadership of Rachel Tiven and the amazing staff here, binational couples are getting their green cards after a decades-long, hard-fought battle. And now that binational couples are getting relief, Immigration Equality will continue to be a source of hope and help for LGBT people around the world. Immigration Equality’s work will always be close to my heart, and I look forward to hearing about their successes for a long time to come.
Celebrating Our Commitments: Yes, we can get our green cards! and Yes, we will get immigration reform!
By Prerna Lal on 07/09/2013 @ 12:04 PM
The Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down a portion of DOMA was life-changing for thousands of LGBT couples who have waited years, and in some cases decades, for the green card they need to keep their families together. My story is one of those countless couples who can now begin to plan and build our future together without the fear of separation, exile or deportation. This decision closes a discriminatory chapter in American immigration law, and opens up a new chapter for me and my family.
In March 2011, the administration initiated removal proceedings against me, threatening to separate me from my partner and family. This was one of the most difficult times of my life, as I was the only undocumented member of my family in four generations of Americans. As an LGBT DREAMer, a DREAM Act eligible youth, in 2011 I had no recourse since U.S. immigration law openly discriminated against same-sex couples, and wouldn’t acknowledge the love and commitment I had for my partner, not allowing her to petition for me as a spouse as any different sex couple would be able to.
As someone who is undocumented, who as an LGBT and immigrant rights activist has fought for this moment for so many years, I am here by the steps of our Capitol at this exciting time to marry and commit the rest of my life to the person I love; And I finally do so knowing that I will be treated equally under the law as any other person that makes that same commitment.
This is the moment I’ve been waiting to celebrate. It means I no longer have to fear the uncertainty of separation, something that has haunted many of our community for decades until today. I can finally commit myself without restrictions, and I stand here to say that my commitment to others in my immigrant community remains uncompromising. I commit to the end for our LGBT families who still need our help through a humane immigration reform, who are here celebrating with me and have always stood by my side.
At this moment when couples across the world celebrate their commitments to each other, I stay committed to immigrant rights to ensure no one is left in the uncertainty I and so many of our community have lived in. So they too, one day, can have an equal chance for happiness and cause for celebration. On this special day, these are the life-long commitments I make.
Standing by Our Families in Miami
By Marco Quiroga on 06/24/2013 @ 05:00 PM
In a single whirlwind week, two major events could change the lives of LGBT immigrant families: the Senate may pass a comprehensive immigration bill, and the Supreme Court will likely rule on marriage equality and the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. In the midst of this exciting time, I headed to Miami, where Immigration Equality is collaborating with LGBT and immigration groups to target key members of Congress for their support in immigration reform. Our message to Senator Rubio and other Florida lawmakers is to commit to passing policy reform for all immigrant families, and to stop limiting and lessening those who will benefit from reform. And, if the Supreme Court does not repeal DOMA this week, we demand that Congress act immediately to provide relief for LGBT immigrant families.
On Sunday, June 23rd we kicked off our week of actions with a rally at Miami’s Freedom Tower, a national historic landmark that served as a gateway for Cuban immigrants as they entered the land of opportunity. Next to the landmark stands a statue of a young boy on crutches leaning under the weight of his luggage. This commemorates the young Cuban immigrants of what is now called Operación Pedro Pan (Operation Peter Pan), in which over 10,000 children were sent to the United States without their parents in search of opportunity, freedom, and equality.
The rally lasted three hours, with DREAMers’ Moms, United We Dream, DRM Action Coalition, and Immigration Equality standing together to demand a commitment to all immigrant families. At one point, we joined hands with Father Aguilar, a priest from Miami’s Trinity Cathedral. Father Aguilar is a member of the Episcopal Church, which heads our Faith Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act. As we stood together hand in hand, Father Aguilar led the group in a heartfelt prayer in Spanish.
This Wednesday, June 26th, we will be out with our allies in full force at a march to Senator Rubio's office in Miami. We will continue to speak out so that the stories of LGBT undocumented immigrants like me are not forgotten, and the voices of our families are not lost. This week, all of Miami’s LGBT organizations will rally at 6 p.m. in South Beach for LGBT families on the day the Supreme Court rules on DOMA. Immigration Equality stands with immigrant and LGBT groups this week in Florida as we fight for our families!
Any Day Now
By Rachel Tiven on 06/14/2013 @ 01:00 PM
The Supreme Court will rule on DOMA any day now. In fact, it could happen as soon as Monday. We will soon know if LGBT families will be able to get their green cards. I can’t wait to share that news with you. As we await the Court’s decision, the Immigration Equality team is already hard at work to make sure that our families can get the green cards they deserve as soon as the ruling is issued.
Our legal team is already training lawyers around the country – and across the world – on what they need to know to file green card applications for our families. Our policy team is pressing the Obama Administration to ensure they implement the ruling quickly, and in a way that helps as many families as possible. Just yesterday, our policy director met Attorney General Eric Holder and reminded him our families need their green cards immediately.
If the Court doesn’t rule our way, or hasn’t ruled before the immigration bill leaves the Senate, we will demand action from Congress. On Tuesday evening, Senator Patrick Leahy filed an amendment to the Senate’s immigration bill to end discrimination against our families.
We’re already in the midst of the busiest summer in our history, and you can be a part of it. Stand with us today as we pressure government agencies to prepare for our green card applications, answer thousands of calls from families seeking help and rally the votes we need in Congress, too.
A different kind of stage
By Emily Saliers on 06/13/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Last night I was performing at a concert in Wolf Trap, just outside of Washington DC. This morning I will be headed up to Capitol Hill to take a different kind of stage – a briefing for Congressional staffers about the importance of immigration reform to my family.
My partner Tristin is from Canada. We met nearly ten years ago when Tristin was a tour manager for Indigo Girls. We soon became friends and then slowly fell in love. Even though we are a completely committed family (which includes our six-month old daughter!), there is no way for me to sponsor Tristin for a green card to keep our family together. This is the story I will be sharing on Capitol Hill today.
I am honored to be joined on this panel by a number of other LGBT individuals whose lives are also fundamentally shaped by immigration reform. Marco, an Immigration Equality staffer and gay DREAMer – will be sharing his story about what a path to citizenship would mean for him and his family. One of Immigration Equality’s former clients will be talking about their experience as an asylee and why we must eliminate the arbitrary one-year filing deadline for asylum which harms so many LGBT individuals fleeing persecution abroad.
I support comprehensive immigration reform because I believe that diversity makes our country richer and America should be a place for people who want to build a better life with their families. That reform must include all families – including families like mine. And that’s what I’ll be saying today on Capitol Hill.
By Meghan Austin on 05/21/2013 @ 08:20 PM
Like many of you, I’ve been watching the immigration markup with one hand over my eyes. My partner needs a green card now. If I were straight, she would already have one. I’ve done everything I can to keep my family together here in Brooklyn: I called, I wrote, I lobbied on the Hill with families from all over the country. I met with Senator Schumer in person.
A few weeks ago, Senator Schumer looked me in the eye and told me that he would stand with our families in committee. Well, today he broke that promise. Personally, I am disgusted by his lack of courage and leadership.
Today in the Senate, “Gang of 8” Senators Schumer and Durbin caved to Republicans’ bullying and the “Gang” became a bipartisan force for discrimination. They threw LGBT families under the bus. Remember the last time they did this? They both voted for DOMA in 1996. Well, it’s not 1996 anymore. History will remember which Senators voted for DOMA and then refused to cast a vote to clean up the mess they made.
Our opponents say there is one choice: discriminate against my family or help 11 million immigrants. It’s a false choice. Once families like mine are out of the picture, politicians who want to kill the immigration bill will simply move on to their next target.
Despite Chairman Leahy's leadership, Senator Schumer and his “Gang of 8” colleagues played a cynical political game today. Let’s remember what happened today, and hold them accountable for betraying our families. We will continue to fight – in Congress and in the courts – until we win.
Florida Families Demand Senator Rubio Stop Attacking LGBT Immigrant Families
By Ameesha Sampat and Marco Quiroga on 05/17/2013 @ 02:00 PM
Families Will Protest & Deliver Petitions to Senator's Miami Office on Wednesday
Florida families will be joined by advocates of inclusive immigration reform to demand that Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to stop opposing the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill. Advocates will be joined by South Florida residents, voters and activists as they deliver petitions, signed by individuals from across the country, insisting that Senator Rubio stop his attacks on LGBT immigrants.
Marco Antonio Quiroga, grassroots organizer for Immigration Equality Action Fund
Felipe Sousa Matos, co-director of GetEQUAL
Natalie Casal, Dream Defenders
Maria Asuncion Bilbao and Ale Saucedo, DREAMers' Moms
Unlike straight Americans, LGBT citizens have no option under current immigration law to sponsor their spouses or partners for residency in the United States. Senator Rubio, a member of the Senate “Gang of 8” that crafted the Senate’s immigration bill, insists on excluding LGBT immigrant families. Floridians will gather outside his Miami office to demand that he stop opposing an amendment for LGBT families.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 12pm
Miami offices of Senator Marco Rubio 8669 NW 36th Street – Doral, FL
Senators McCain and Graham: Stop your bullying!
By Marco Quiroga on 05/14/2013 @ 11:30 AM
Our opponents are insisting on our exclusion from immigration reform. This is unacceptable. They need to hear from you! They need to hear from the family, friends, and those personally affected telling them that the Uniting American Families Act is about real families – it’s not a political football.
Action of the Week: Call Senators McCain and Graham today
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, two Republican members of the Senate “Gang of Eight” on immigration, are bullying our friends, and are working overtime to keep LGBT families out of immigration reform. And we cannot let them get away with it.
Senator McCain, when asked if the provision were included, said: “Before we get that far, I’ll do everything in my power to see that it’s not there.” McCain said the provision was “not necessary” for the immigration bill. This is unacceptable, our families’ inclusion is absolutely necessary, and Senator McCain needs to hear from you today!
Senator John McCain of Arizona: (202) 224-2235
Senator Graham called the Uniting American Families Act inclusion in immigration reform a “bad idea” and has pushed others to vote against it. A permanent solution to the struggle our families face is not a “bad idea” but a just and fair one and Senator Graham needs a call from you today!
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: (202) 224-5972
These Senators have to receive this message, and we need you to help us deliver it:
“My name is ____________________and I support the Uniting American Families Act. [Briefly describe why this issue is important and personal to you]… Close with: So, I am calling today to ask the Senator to stop demeaning gays and instead help real American families! I ask that the Senator stop opposing the Uniting American Families Act and gay families’ inclusion in immigration reform because our families matter, too.”
Your voice matters, our families matter, and you making these calls matters.
By Dotty Albright on 05/12/2013 @ 11:00 AM
I'm the mother of a wonderful daughter who is in a binational relationship. My daughter Jensi and daughter-in-law Carmen have been together for more than seven years and got married in December of last year. But, like thousands of other binational couples, Jensi can't sponsor Carmen for a green card to stay together as a family with a stable future here in the U.S.
I've never been a very political person, but things are different when your family is on the line. For example, last year my husband and I knocked doors, made phone calls, and did about everything we could to win marriage equality in my home state of Maine.
And a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get to travel to Washington D.C. to join my daughter to lobby our Members of Congress to support binational families in immigration reform. Not only that, but I was just one of many moms who were there supporting their own children. (The picture is a little blurry, but that's Jensi and me on the left!)
And now, I've joined the emergency call-in team so I'll be ready when our families get voted on as an amendment. Signing up is easy; I hope you'll join me. It's the least I can do for my daughter and her wife.
Mothers know — we would do anything to support our children and our families. Any day now, the Senate Judiciary committee could be voting on an amendment to include LGBT immigrant families — like my daughter's — in the immigration reform bill. As a member of the emergency call-in team, I'll be ready to act when that moment comes.
Happy Mother's Day to all.
NY Stands Firm
By Marco Quiroga on 05/09/2013 @ 11:00 AM
Sen. Schumer, say you will vote "YES" on UAFA
Wednesday, Immigration Equality, Make the Road New York, and DRM Action Coalition, held a press conference in front of Senator Schumer's New York City offices. Leaders of the organizations were unwavering in their commitment for the inclusion of LGBT families in immigration reform. At the press conference, families who are personally affected by this discrimination along with organizational leaders urged Senator Schumer to publicly commit to voting "YES". Yes to the Uniting American Families Act as an amendment to the senate immigration bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I had the personal privilege to stand alongside an inspirational couple, Pablo and Santiago, who so clearly are incredibly in love and have built a life with each other for over 20 years. As they looked at one another and the crowd and passionately told their story and their struggle to remain in New York together, the place they love and call home, their voices trembled. Their love and need for an urgent permanent solution hit home with everyone present. Their voices strengthened and elevated as they said "Senator Schumer needs to commit to voting "yes" on Uniting American Families Act and lead in the Senate for our family." As proud New Yorkers, they emphasized that "New York has come so far, the citizens of New York support gay relationships and LGBT families.As New Yorkers, we do not want our family to live in fear of separation. and we need the Uniting American Families Act to help our family stay together."
Nicole Teyuca, an LGBT DREAMer from Make the Road NY, and I both spoke about how difficult the double struggle of coming out of the closet and coming out of the shadows as undocumented is. Carlos Vargas of DRM Action Coalition said that even though he is not gay, as a DREAMer, he had to come out of the closet once as well and this is an experience that all DREAMers face and why his community is unwavering in their support for inclusive-immigration reform.
Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality who spoke last summarized our need for Senator Schumer to publicly say he will vote 'yes' on UAFA and emphasized that "we want him to say to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle what we believe to be true - that including LGBT families will strengthen immigration reform," as any advancement for our community would strengthen our nation.
We're one step closer.
By Kathryn Baxter on 05/08/2013 @ 01:00 PM
Last night, Senator Leahy filed two amendments to the Senate immigration bill that would help LGBT binational families. One amendment is the Uniting American Families Act. The other amendment is similar and provides equal protection to married bi-national same sex couples that other spouses receive under existing immigration law.
Senator Leahy could offer either of the amendments he filed today for a vote during the committee’s consideration of the immigration bill. Immigration Equality fully supports both of these amendments.
Senator Leahy has been a long-time champion of LGBT immigrants and their families. By filing these amendments, Senator Leahy has shown that he is standing with us. Now we need you to call to stand with him.
You can do this in two easy steps:
- Call Senator Leahy’s office at (202) 224-4242.
- Tell the office: “I want to thank Senator Leahy for filing amendments to the immigration bill that would help LGBT immigrant families. [Personal story or connection to the issue here.] I am proud to call Senator Leahy a champion for our families.”
After you’ve called, be sure to register for our emergency-call in team. The moment one of Senator Leahy’s amendments for our families comes up for a vote, Senators will need to hear from you! A vote on the amendments could be held within hours of it being offered. As part of the team, you’ll be the first to know that it’s time to act.
Thanks in advance for making these calls. We’re counting on champions like Senator Leahy – and supporters like you – to win for all of our families.
We’re on the Hill. Are you on the phone?
By Meghan Austin on 04/24/2013 @ 11:06 AM
A few days ago, my partner received a depressing letter from her visa sponsor. “Your temporary visa will end on June 30,” it said. “You have 30 days to leave the country. Let me know when you book your flight!” The cheerful exclamation point was too much to take. Why should my partner get a letter like this, when a straight couple gets a visa?
Right now, I’m standing on the steps of the Capitol with 50 other families from 27 states to let Congress know: we’re not leaving. Our families are meeting with your Senators to demand inclusion in the immigration bill. We’re walking to their offices now.
While we’re hopeful that the Supreme Court will strike down DOMA, we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. Immigration reform is moving now, and we can get our families added to the bill in committee, if we keep the pressure on.
If I can’t sponsor my partner for a visa soon, she will lose her job as a teacher. We may have to leave our home. I’m here with families from all over the country and love exiles from all over the world. We can’t rely on the Supreme Court to decide our fate — but our Senators can protect our families today.
P.S. Each call you make and report enters you into our Safe Haven Giveaway to win a free trip to New York for the Safe Haven Awards gala on May 29. Restrictions apply. See official rules for details.
P.P.S. If you’re already called your Senators, thanks! Please pass along the link to your friends and family. Let them know why this matters to you: http://imeqactionfund.org/call/
It's a big day for us... help make it even bigger.
By Rachel Tiven on 04/22/2013 @ 11:30 AM
Today is a big day on Capitol Hill for LGBT binational families. Jim Kolbe, former Congressman from Arizona and a member of a binational family, will be speaking as a witness at the Senate’s hearing on immigration reform.
In his testimony, Congressman Kolbe will have the chance to speak to Senators directly about the struggles that binational same-sex couples face. But just because you won’t be at the witness table doesn’t mean that you can’t tell your Senators what this issue means to you, too.
The Senate immigration bill that was released last week includes many strong components that will help immigrants and their families, but it does not include protections for same-sex binational couples. Our best chance to be added to the bill is by an amendment in committee and these votes will likely begin in just a matter of weeks, even days. This means we have a limited window to show our force on Capitol Hill and demonstrate that LGBT families will not stand by while a bill passes us by.
Yes, this email may sound urgent, but for a good reason. Immigration reform is moving NOW, and we can’t miss this chance to ensure that our families are a part of it. We won’t know the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling until late June, and by then, we’ll have missed our best (and perhaps only) shot to be included in legislation.
Don’t look back and wonder if your call could have made a difference. Do your part on behalf of all of our families by calling right now.
1,000 calls to Congress right now.
By Rachel Tiven on 04/18/2013 @ 11:30 AM
Yesterday, the Senate “Gang of Eight” released their immigration reform bill.
While the legislation includes many positive components, including a path to citizenship, the DREAM Act, and changes that will help asylum seekers, the bill does not include the Uniting American Families Act or any protections for LGBT binational families.
The legislation introduced today isn’t comprehensive; it’s a compromise that leaves families behind.
But you can do something to change this. Our goal is to make 1,000 calls to the Senate to share the message that the Senate’s immigration bill is incomplete without our families.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Go to the easy calling tool on our website and enter your address. This is how we provide you with the phone numbers for your Senators’ offices. (If you live outside the US, enter the last address where you lived or the address where you wish to return.)
- Call your senator’s office at the phone number provided using the call script provided in the calling tool.
- Repeat step two, calling your other senator and delivering the same message.
- Report back your calls. Fill out the brief form to let us know who you called. This is a critical step, as it helps us track how many calls we’ve made.
We will not give Senators of either party a pass on the inclusion of our families in immigration reform. We have a strategy to fix this in the Judiciary Committee so that a fully inclusive bill makes it to the Senate floor and, ultimately, to the President’s desk. But that strategy depends on you making these calls!
We need every family, every supporter, every voice speaking out, and speaking out now. After you've made your calls, forward this email and ask your parents, siblings, and friends to call, too. Let's make 1,000 calls this week to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform is truly comprehensive.
Florida Activists Call on Elected Leaders to Support LGBT-Inclusive Immigration Reform
By Marco Quiroga on 04/17/2013 @ 10:50 AM
Just days before the Senate “Gang of 8” unveiled their comprehensive immigration reform bill, a diverse coalition of grassroots organizations in Florida gathered at Miami Pride in support of legislation that provides equal treatment for LGBT immigrants and their families.
On April 15th, Florida advocates held a press conference as they delivered a letter tot eh office of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the "Gang of 8" lawmakers spearheading the bill. Similar letters were also delivered to the Miami offices of legislators who have so far been silent on the issue of LGBT inclusion in immigration reform. Those offices included Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a strong supporter of LGBT equality and a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act; Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a member of the House "Gang of 8" working on legislation in that chamber; and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), a DREAM co-sponsor and supporter of marriage equality.
The coalition includes DREAM Act-eligible youth and their mothers, as well as civil, immigrant and LGBT rights organizations such as the Florida Immigrant Coalition and the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (a project of United We Dream).
In their letter, the groups call for immigration reform that:
Includes the Uniting American Families Act, to end the untenable situation many Florida LGBT binational couples and their families face of being forced to make the terrible choice of separating, or leaving the country to live in exile;
Provides a timely, clear and humane pathway to citizenship for undocumented people;
Prioritizes family unity by preserving existing family categories, increasing visas for family categories, reducing wait times for separated families, and ending the discrimination in immigration law that LGBT binational families face;
Ensures humane enforcement of immigration laws, including due process rights and reforms to immigration detention;
Guarantees full workplace rights, including wage protections, mobility and the right to organize; and
Lifts the one-year filing deadline for asylum.
The Senate's bill is the most ambitious overhaul of the nation's immigration system in three decades. The groups noted that “the opportunity to pass inclusive and humane comprehensive immigration reform is a critical, once-in-a-generation opportunity. LGBT families cannot continue to be locked out of the system, suffering separation and exile. LGBT families, and our undocumented loved ones, must be included in comprehensive immigration reform now.”
Organizations signing onto the letter include:
Aqua Foundation for Women
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Florida Immigrant Youth Network
Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a project of United We Dream
National TransLatina Coalition
Students Working for Equal Rights (S.W.E.R.) - North Campus, Kendall Campus & InterAmerican Campus of Miami-Dade College; as well as Wolfson MDS; Homestead; St. Thomas University; and Florida International University S.W.E.R.
Unity Coalition | Coalición Unida
To read the Miami Herald's coverage of the press conference, click here.