Congress, Priorities and Immigration Reform
By Steve Ralls on 06/17/2010 @ 01:26 PM
In the midst of the BP oil spill, the fight for financial reform and other legislative issues, many of you have been wondering: What happens with immigration reform – and the Uniting American Families Act – now?
In the days immediately following Arizona’s passage of its anti-immigrant law, Congress and the White House turned its attention to comprehensive reform . . . and LGBT families, for the first time ever, were included in the framework for that reform. That success moved us immeasurably forward in our efforts to end discrimination against LGBT binational families. In fact, it is not an understatement to say that it was a game-changer. For the first time ever, our seat at the table was undisputed, and our inclusion in a bill was expected.
Then, oil started gushing in the gulf, and Washington’s famously short attention span seemed to turn to other matters.
That, however, is not the end of the story.
Last week, Senator Schumer told immigration reform supporters in New York that he still believes comprehensive reform can be tackled in this Congress. If not, Schumer said, he remained confident that a bill could be passed no later than March 2011.
We know, however, that for families who are separated, every day can seem like an eternity. That’s why none of us at Immigration Equality have ever taken passage of a particular bill for granted. And its why we have always pursued every possible avenue for success, and will continue to do so.
All of us remain committed to including LGBT families in comprehensive reform, and as long as our champions in Congress are standing strong in their pledge to introduce and pass a bill, we will stand with them. But we will continue to build support for the Uniting American Families Act as well, because both campaigns help each other. Should comprehensive reform move, it is critical that we have the co-sponsors, and supporters, to show the breadth and depth of support for our families . . . and to make their inclusion in the comprehensive bill a priority. At the same, building those supporters is also critical for ensuring that, should Congress decide in the future to tackle stand-alone bills, we can demonstrate the momentum and support to make the UAFA a priority for lawmakers.
That two pronged strategy ensures that, whatever the political landscape is moving forward, we have built the case for moving legislation that ends discrimination against our families. Our commitment remains to be ready to take advantage of every possible avenue for success.
The coming weeks and months will no doubt bring more changes to Capitol Hill. The Immigration Equality team has a plan in place, however, to continue our fight for victory throughout those changes, and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented by each scenario. We can – and will – push for a legislative win in every possible way, whether through the UAFA or its inclusion in comprehensive reform. The stakes are too high to leave any stone unturned.