What did our Founders say about immigration?
By Rachel Tiven on 07/04/2011 @ 12:41 PM
“He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither ...”
— The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
King George’s refusal to pass comprehensive immigration reform helped spark the American Revolution. Our Founders knew that the nation’s future lay in robust immigration, and England’s failure to encourage and regulate it was one of the top ten grievances in the Declaration of Independence.
Two-hundred and thirty-five years later, we must again demand that our leaders take responsibility for naturalizing foreigners and encouraging migration to this great country. On this Fourth of July, here are three reasons why:
- Frances Herbert and Takako Ueda are going to be separated by immigration laws that don’t respect their marriage and their 11 years together. Sign our petition asking the President to keep them together.
- Jose Antonio Vargas can’t be a citizen, even though he grew up in the U.S., graduated from high school and college here, and won a Pulitzer Prize. As a gay man, he proudly came out of two closets in his incredible article “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.”
- New York, the Empire State, can’t fix this problem with marriage equality. Nor can Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut or the District of Columbia. To free Frances and Takako, Jose, and every other LGBT immigrant family, we need to repeal the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Watch your inbox for an action alert this week on the Senate’s new comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes the Uniting American Families Act. Better yet, friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
For Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, have a happy Independence Day!
From CNN a Story on One Couple, Fighting to Stay Together
By Christopher Edwards on 06/28/2011 @ 03:37 PM
Today CNN told the heartbreaking tale of one bitnational couple in Vermont fighting to stay together. Watch the video below or at the CNN site (where you can recommend it to your friends).
Sign the petition now at http://imeqactionfund.org/francesandtakako
Tuesday: CNN Profiles Our Families
By Steve Ralls on 06/27/2011 @ 04:05 PM
On Tuesday morning, CNN will turn its attention to the discrimination, and obstacles, that LGBT couples face under current immigration law.
At 11:30am, correspondent Soledad O'Brien will report on an Immigration Equality couple who are fighting - with help from our legal team - to remain together in the United States. Tuesday's segment will also include an interview with our executive director, Rachel Tiven, about how immigration law impacts LGBT families . . . and what we're doing to change that.
Be sure to tune in on Tuesday at 11:30am ET. Then, check back here for a special announcement about how you can be part of the campaign to keep this family together.
VICTORY! Marriage Equality in New York
By Staff on 06/24/2011 @ 08:29 PM
All of us at Immigration Equality, and the Immigration Equality Action Fund, join our families, supporters and allies in celebrating today’s historic vote in favor of full marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples. New York joins five other states — plus the District of Columbia — in respecting the commitment and union of all families. We applaud lawmakers who, quite literally, worked overtime to make this legislative victory possible.
As more and more states recognize, and respect, our families, pressure continues to grow for the federal government to repeal the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A majority of the American people support marriage equality, and want to see LGBT families given the respect, and legal protections, they deserve.
Until DOMA’s demise – and until our families are recognized under U.S. immigration laws – we will continue to fight for our families.
Immigration benefits — including the ability of an American citizen to sponsor their spouse for residency here in the U.S. — are purely federal. Because DOMA prohibits conferring any of the more than 1,000 federal benefits even to couples who have a marriage recognized at the state level, the estimated 5,000 families in New York with one non-resident partner still face painful, and unconscionable, choices as they fight to remain together.
As our legal director, Victoria Neilson, noted earlier this year, “DOMA is still in force and will continue to bar federal government agencies — including the ones that control immigration – from recognizing valid marriages.” (See our full FAQ on marriage and immigration, online here.)
Even today, our legal team is working to assist married New York couples as they face painful separation. As the Daily News reported earlier this year, Long Island residents Edwin Blesch and his South African husband, Tim Smulian, could be torn apart as early as next month. Despite being legally married in South Africa – and despite the fact that their marriage has been recognized by New York for some time — Edwin has few legal options for keeping Tim in the United States.
As we celebrate today’s progress in New York, we also re-commit to fighting for DOMA’s repeal. Until the federal government follows in the footsteps of states like New York, and provides equal protection to our families, couples will continue to be separated.
Make no mistake, though. Hope is here, and change is on the horizon. A recent memo from Immigration & Customs Enforcement may offer an option to fight for an end to the removal of LGBT immigrant spouses. And our policy and legal teams are continuing to work with the Administration to bring about a moratorium on the separation of our families.
Until every family has an option to remain together, however, we will not rest.
(If you are married, or thinking of marrying, and have questions about how doing so may impact your immigration situation, or contact Immigration Equality’s legal team via our website.)
Coming Out as Immigrant Families
By Christopher Edwards on 06/23/2011 @ 02:47 PM
Last week I joined 2,500 activists, bloggers, journalists and activist/blogger/journalists in Minneapolis for the 2011 Netroots Conference. Amongst strategy sessions and big name keynotes were the personal stories of activists and none were quite as moving as the lesbian and gay DREAM Act students who framed their struggle within the narrative of the LGBT movement. Invoking the words of Harvey Milk and the power of "coming out."
It began on Tuesday with the LGBT Pre-Conference where the DREAM Act students talked about among other things how it was more difficult to come out as a undocumented than to come out as gay:
This conversation led at least one audience member, gay DC blogger Carlos QC, to publicly come out as undocumented.
During that same session i took the opportunity to tie the story of LGBT immigrants into the narrative of fear and bigotry against all immigrants, explaining how LGBT immigrants were not allowed into the country at all before 1980 and how after that HIV-positive immigrants were legally barred from entering the country. These discriminatory practices were carried out by means of search and intimidation. Officials reviewed luggage for any signs of sexuality or HIV meds. Not unlike some binational couples still face while having their computers searched.
I also came out at the conference as being one half of a binational couple, talking a little bit about my 10-year relationship. By my doing so, others at the conference felt they could do the same to me and others.
There is power in identifying ourselves. Whether we come out as LGBT, undocumented, or part of a binational family. We are saying, that we will not be intimidated to live in fear and hide in the shadows. And we create a space for others to reveal their stories as well.
This week we see how that works when Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Vargas came out in the pages of New York Times as gay and undocumented. Jose, who won his Pulitzer for his work on the Virginia Tech shootings at the Washington Post, writes of his experience as undocumented:
I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.
I’ve tried. Over the past 14 years, I’ve graduated from high school and college and built a career as a journalist, interviewing some of the most famous people in the country. On the surface, I’ve created a good life. I’ve lived the American dream.
But I am still an undocumented immigrant. And that means living a different kind of reality. It means going about my day in fear of being found out. It means rarely trusting people, even those closest to me, with who I really am. It means keeping my family photos in a shoebox rather than displaying them on shelves in my home, so friends don’t ask about them. It means reluctantly, even painfully, doing things I know are wrong and unlawful. And it has meant relying on a sort of 21st-centry underground railroad of supporters, people who took an interest in my future and took risks for me.
We hear often about "playing by the rules" as if our lives were a game that if we as binational families could just give try harder, prove to be just a little bit more worthy we will finally be able to live without the fear that our partners will be deported. This is too often the story of immigration in the U.S.
After Japanese were interned during World War II the concept of the "model minority" was born. The idea that if Japanese were better educated, more enterprising, more self-sufficient they would never be treated that way again. Japanese-Americans blamed themselves for the bigotry and hate they experienced.
And they aren't' alone. In my own family, my grandmother was the child of a mother from Ireland and a father from Austria. She hated being an immigrant more than anything. As a family with a German-sounding last name, Kurzweil, they were forced to move to Canada so my grandfather could find work in the face of anti-German backlash after World War I. My grandmother wanted nothing more than to just blend in. To her, her greatest success story was finally being that Republican, suburban housewife she so very much craved. No one could tell she was an immigrant's child then!
We have forgotten our immigration stories in this country because there is so much shame associated with growing up as immigrants in the U.S. So many stories of oppression and bigotry — not to mention working an immigration system seemingly designed to confuse — that are suppressed within our family narratives, we have trouble empathizing with the stories of immigrants we see today. In our national dialogue on immigration we have lost the connection between previous generations of immigrants and the current generation of immigrants. And with that loss, we've lost an understanding not just of the difficulty in integrating but the difficulty in immigrating period. Our families all came here in many, many different ways to seek the American Dream. Undocumented families and our LGBT binational families are no different.
As we head into LGBT Pride weekend, we see the wisdom and the courage our LGBT history in standing up against fear and oppression. The times now for immigrants — with papers or without, LGBT or not — and their families to come out and stand up to tell our stories. It's the only way to help others understand how broken the system is and to identify real people with the statistics. It has been undeniably at the root of the success of our LGBT movement and it must happen to move the U.S. to a more just and humane immigration system for our LGBT families and for ALL families.
Remember to share your story. We collect those stories and use them directly in our conversations lawmakers and those setting policy for immigrants.
Immigration Equality Calls on ICE to Recognize LGBT Families in New 'Discretion' Memo
By Steve Ralls on 06/20/2011 @ 04:14 PM
Immigration Equality today called on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to broaden and clarify the definition of ‘family’ and ‘spouse’ used in a June 17 memo to ICE field offices, special agents and counsel. The memo, which outlines cases in which ICE officials should exercise ‘discretion’ when prioritizing who should be targeted for removal from the United States, fails to specifically include lesbian and gay spouses or partners, despite earlier correspondence indicating those families would be given such considerations. While the recent memo specifies that those with “family relationships” in the United States, and individuals with a “U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse” may be considered for discretion, it does not indicate those terms to be inclusive of LGBT spouses and families.
“Our legal team works every day with LGBT families who are about to be separated,” said Immigration Equality’s executive director, Rachel B. Tiven. “While ICE has taken a significant step in recognizing that tearing families apart should not be a government priority, it must be explicit that lesbian and gay families are protected, too.”
In a May letter to Members of Congress who had called on ICE to halt the deportation of LGBT spouses, the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice noted that both agencies would “continue, where appropriate, to exercise discretion in individual cases based on the unique factors presented by that particular case.” Despite those assurances, and repeated calls by lawmakers and Immigration Equality to use such discretion, there is no specific mention of LGBT families among the 19 scenarios cited in Friday’s memo. Though the memo noted that the “list is not exhaustive,” Tiven expressed concern that the absence of any LGBT-specific example would lead field offices to believe those families are exempt from leniency in enforcing removal.
“Given the absence of any LGBT family recognition at the federal level, the decision not to explicitly include our spouses and partners in the ICE memo is striking,” Tiven said. “If the Administration does support efforts to keep LGBT families together, it should tell its field offices as much. If it does not, it must explain why. In the interim, families are being torn apart and American citizens are being separated from their spouses. There is simply no government interest served in such draconian enforcement of our immigration laws.”
Image via Wikipedia
U.N. Human Rights Council Calls for LGBT Equality
By Guest on 06/20/2011 @ 11:49 AM
This guest post is from Immigration Equality legal interns, Samara Fox and Elaine Cintron.
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution this past Friday affirming the universal rights of all LGBT individuals. It is the first ever resolution addressing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The resolution, introduced by South Africa, aims to bring heightened attention to the widespread violence and discrimination that LGBT people experience around the world. It also commissions a study detailing the many forms of disparate treatment that individuals experience in various nations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Immigration Equality applauds the 23 nations that voted in favor of the resolution and the 40 sponsors of the resolution from around the world. Many nations opposing it had some of the worst LGBT human rights records to date. Daniel Baer, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary, said after the vote that the resolution will provide hope for the LGBT people of those nations, sending a message “that there are many people in the international community who stand with them, and who support then, and that change will come."
This Saturday: Rally with Rachel at NY Pride
By Steve Ralls on 06/15/2011 @ 03:47 PM
The first NYC LGBT Pride Rally occurred one month after the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 when 500 people gathered for a "Gay Power" demonstration in Washington Square Park. It was followed by a candlelight vigil in Sheridan Square. From 1997 to 2009, the Rally was held in Bryant Park.
In 2010, the Rally moved to its new home at Central Park's SummerStage in Rumsey Field, 5th Ave and 72nd St.
This Saturday, 2011 Pride celebrations will get underway with the kick-off rally featuring Immigration Equality's executive director, Rachel Tiven.
The rally gets under way on June 18th at 3pm, and Rachel will address the crowd at approximately 3:30. She'll be joined by headline performer Oh Land, the cast of Broadway's Priscilla Queen of the Desert and emcees Ross Matthews and Christine O'Leary.
If you're in New York on Saturday, join Rachel at Rumsey Playfield Central Park . . . and don't forget to sign up to march with Immigration Equality supporters on Sunday, June 26th, too. Everyone who marches with us receives a free Immigration Equality t-shirt!
Image via Wikipedia.
'Out in America,' and In the Immigration Equality Offices
By Steve Ralls on 06/08/2011 @ 08:38 PM
In conjunction with tonight's premiere of 'Out in America' on PBS, New York's Channel 13 visits with Immigration Equality and interviews our executive director, Rachel Tiven.
The full documentary, chronicling the LGBT movement in American, premieres on PBS stations across the country this evening at 8pm ET.
A Safe Haven Success — Thank you!
By Win Chesson on 06/07/2011 @ 05:57 PM
We did it!
Thanks the tremendous efforts and incredible generosity of our supporters, especially our Host Committee, this year’s Safe Haven Awards was our best yet! We raised half a million dollars and had record attendance, including guests from our pro bono community, business coalition partners, and loyal supporters like you. Thank you.
With not even one empty seat in the gorgeous TimesCenter theatre we were at capacity and able to meet (and exceed!) our first ever $50,000 challenge match from binational couple Martin Chavez and Adam Norbury. Together we raised over $150,000 Tuesday night — more than triple our record for money raised the night of any IE event. This is simply incredible and a testament to each of you.
On behalf of the entire Immigration Equality team, thanks again for to our many donors and supporters who dedicated time, treasure, and talent over the past several months to make the Safe Haven Awards a success.
We are also extremely grateful for the fantastic photography of Charles Ludeke.
Please check out his wonderful photos from the event, below:
One Family Divided, Under Law
By Steve Ralls on 06/07/2011 @ 10:05 AM
In just one week, Bradford Wells could lose the person he built his entire life around.
Wells, an American citizen, has been with his partner Anthony Makk -- who is Australian -- for 19 years. The couple married in Massachusetts seven years ago. They have a built home, and a life, together in San Francisco. As Wells's health has declined, Anthony has become his primary caretaker, ensuring his husband makes his doctors' visits and takes his medication on time.
When it comes to U.S. law, however, none of that matters.
On June 13, Makk's visa will expire, and the couple will face heart-wrenching choices about the future. Unlike straight Americans, who have the ability to sponsor their spouse for residency, lesbian and gay couples in the same situation have few legal options for remaining together. Many are forced into exile, leaving the United States entirely. Others are forced apart, splitting their families. Of the more than 36,000 such couples, nearly half are raising young children -- themselves American citizens -- who face the very real possibility of losing a parent, or losing the only country they have ever called home.
For Wells and Makk, it could mean the end of two decades spent with only one goal: To live their lives together.
A Headlining Weekend
By Steve Ralls on 06/06/2011 @ 10:10 AM
This past weekend saw a major focus on LGBT immigrant families in news articles from three prominent, mainstream press outlets.
On Saturday, The San Francisco Chronicle included a front-page profile of Bradford Wells and Anthony Makk, a couple who turned to Immigration Equality for help as they struggle to remain together in the United States. With a looming deadline of June 13th - when Makk's stay in the U.S. will officially expire - our team is fighting to keep the couple united, and has asked their Congressional Representatives to weigh in on their behalf.
The couple, who were married seven years ago, have been together for almost two decades.
"We're at the end of our rope," said Wells, 55. "Ever since we met, all we've tried to do is be together. The focal point of our lives, everything we've done, is just so we could be together."
"It's devastating, the idea of him leaving in a couple of weeks and not being able to get back in," Wells said. After suffering a near-fatal heart attack and severe arthritis in his hips, Wells said he is unable to care for himself. "I don't know how I'm going to manage," he said. "My stomach is in knots."
The Chronicle noted that, "Immigration Equality . . . this week asked California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, to ask the administration to put the San Francisco case on hold. All three offices said they are reviewing the matter."
The Chronicle's coverage was followed, on Sunday, with an Associated Press story about the ongoing obstacles faced by LGBT couples seeking green cards.
Reporter Amy Taxin wrote that, "For years, immigration attorneys warned gay couples not to bother seeking a green card for their foreign spouses since there was no chance they'd get one. Now, in select cases, they're starting to rethink that advice."
"We are advising more people to do it — at least in the context of if the foreign partner, the foreign spouse is in deportation proceedings," said Victoria Neilson, Immigration Equality's legal director. "At this point there is more of a feeling that the tide is turning on marriage in this country and it could be something that could be helpful."
"The issue has enflamed passions," AP noted, "on both sides of the debate over gay marriage."
That report was followed this morning, with a story in the L.A. Times, profiling one couple who have been forced into exile because of discriminatory immigration laws.
Recounting the story of Jesse Goodman and Max Oliva, the Times notes that, "For a time, they relied on a mix of work permits and tourist visas to stay together. When the last permit was set to expire five years ago, they decided it was best to leave the U.S.
"We ran out of options," Goodman said.
"Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and 47 other members of Congress have written to the attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security asking that immigration officials hold off on rejecting visa petitions for same-sex couples and suspend deportations of married same-sex partners until the courts resolve whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional," the paper notes.
"The department said it would exercise discretion in individual cases, but that it would continue to enforce the law, which remains in effect."
"Right now the department's position is that they can't defend [the act] because it's unconstitutional," Lofgren said. "If that's the case, then that leads you to the conclusion that you should not be enforcing it."
Image via Wikipedia
Erik & Ranesh Ramanathan: A Family Commitment
By Christopher Edwards on 06/03/2011 @ 03:49 PM
Erik & Ranesh Ramanathan are a binational couple living near Boston. This is the story of their over 20 year relationship and their struggle to remain together despite immigration discrimination against LGBT couples.
Watch to see how they remained together against all odds and why they work with and for Immigration Equality. Then take action and share your story at ImEqActionFund.org\share
President Obama Reiterates Support for Binational Families on New White House LGBT Site
By Steve Ralls on 06/02/2011 @ 07:05 PM
President Obama has gone on-the-record in support of LGBT binational families.
A new White House website dedicated to showcasing the President's support for LGBT equality makes specific note of the commander-in-chief's support for ending the separation of our families.
The new site, titled Winning the Future, includes a fact sheet about the President's position on various LGBT issues. Under the header "Supporting LGBT Progress," the Administration notes that, "President Obama believes that . . . Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country."
The website, launched in conjunction with the White House's proclamation observing LGBT Pride Month, is a first for any Presidential Administration. A statement posted on the site notes that, "The President and his Administration are dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging LGBT communities across the country."
Image via Wikipedia.
Senator Gillibrand on LGBT Immigration Reform & Being in a Binational Marriage
By Steve Ralls on 05/18/2011 @ 10:35 AM
In a wide-ranging new interview with reporter Andrew Harmon at The Advocate, United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) talks about the future of LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, as well as her own experiences as the American half of a binational marriage.
Gillibrand - who has been a staunch supporter of LGBT equality - recently joined eleven other Senate colleagues in calling on the Obama Administration to halt the deportation of LGBT spouses.
From her interview with The Advocate:
Last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney indicated that the administration does not intend to put a moratorium on deportations involving gay binational couples who are legally married. Yet last month you and 11 senate colleagues wrote a letter to both Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urging as much. Are you disappointed?
It’s disappointing. But this is just the beginning of the debate. The more we highlight the effect this has on real lives, on real families, families with children — people will begin to realize that this policy is the wrong policy.
Should the administration know this already?
Immigration reform has been very difficult, for this administration, the previous administration — this is a very volatile issue nationwide. And as a consequence, it may take the administration longer to get this done than I would like, because I really want comprehensive immigration reform, and I want reforms for the ability for spouses and loved ones to sponsor their partners. But that’s the nature of all these political battles. That you have to build your support, you need to make it a broad-based grassroots support, you need to create the intensity that comes with personal stories and the effects on real people — and that is work that we’re going to do over the next six months.
Has the administration responded to the letter that you and your Senate colleagues sent?
I don’t think we’ve had a response yet.
You’re in a binational relationship — your husband [Jonathan Gillibrand] is from the U.K. How has your marriage influenced your perspective in this issue?
When we got engaged, when we got married, we couldn’t go outside the country to have a honeymoon because Jonathan’s status was pending. We had to be very careful about our travel. It must be an awful feeling for any loving couple to have to worry that your spouse or your loved one is going to be deported at any moment. I can’t think of a more awful, destabilizing, unfair policy. At all. And so we have to do better. And we have to protect these marriages, and these partnerships. Because these are loving couples, and they may well have children, and we should protect those children.
To read Senator Gillibrand's full interview with Harmon, click here.
Image via Wikipedia
Join Immigration Equality for DC Pride!
By Steve Ralls on 05/17/2011 @ 12:54 PM
If you live in - or will be visiting - Washington, D.C. for this year's Capital Pride . . . Immigration Equality wants to hear from you!
We are looking for a few good volunteers to help staff our informational booth on Sunday, June 12th. Help us spread the word about our advocacy work on behalf of the LGBT immigrant community. Meet new friends . . . meet our staff . . . and earn a free Immigration Equality t-shirt!
We need volunteers to help staff our Capital Pride booth, and to help collect signatures from the crowd during the festival. Volunteers will be scheduled in 2-hour blocks, so you can help out and enjoy the festivities, too.
For more information, or to sign up as a volunteer, email Maria Booth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to seeing our DC supporters on the 12th! (And, for our New York supporters, look for information on our parade contingent here on the blog soon.)
Important News if You Entered the 2012 Diversity Visa Lottery!
By Victoria Neilson on 05/16/2011 @ 02:26 PM
Last week the Department of State announced that it made an error when it determined the winners of the 2012 Diversity Visa lottery. As a result, if you checked on line and saw that you won, unfortunately, you have not actually won yet.
DOS realized that there was some sort of computer glitch through which 90% of the winners were drawn from those who registered in the first two days. So DOS now plans to redo the whole lottery and make the new notifications available on or around July 15.
The bottom line is, everyone – winner or loser – who entered the lottery last year needs to check the DOS website again in July. Obviously, if you’d thought you’d won and now you’ve learned that you have not, this is truly terrible news. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that there will be any legal resource for false winners since winning the lottery is not a guarantee of getting a visa anyway.
Image via Wikipedia
The Washington Post Calls for an End to Deportations of LGBT Partners
By Steve Ralls on 05/16/2011 @ 11:41 AM
This morning's Washington Post includes an editorial calling on the Obama Administration to halt thee deportation of LGBT immigrants who are in relationships with American citizens.
Writing in response to Attorney General Holder's recent action to vacate a decision which would have separated a New Jersey couple in a recognized civil union, the Post editorial board writes that, "DOMA has been an impediment to the rights of gay men and lesbians since its inception in 1996. It withholds from same-sex couples the legal protections, obligations and privileges enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts. Repeal appears out of reach, but Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced in February that the Justice Department would no longer defend DOMA in court, after concluding that it is unconstitutional."
"Mr. Holder should erase any confusion by declaring a moratorium on removal of foreign nationals in state-recognized same-sex unions until federal courts determine DOMA’s constitutionality," the paper concludes. "He should ensure that the government is not focusing on breaking up otherwise law-abiding families."
To read the full editorial in this morning's Post, click here.
Image via Flickr
In a New Op-Ed, Rep. Honda Calls for Inclusive Reform
By Steve Ralls on 05/13/2011 @ 10:12 AM
In a new op-ed appearing in this morning's San Jose Mercury-News, California Congressman Mike Honda calls on his colleagues in Congress to pass immigration reform legislation that includes LGBT families.
Congressman Honda, who is lead sponsor of the LGBT-inclusive Reuniting Families Act, makes a personal appeal for an inclusive reform package that would end the obstacles immigrant families - including LGBT families - face under current immigration laws.
"People who have their families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those living apart from loved ones for years on end," Honda writes. "By pooling resources, families can do together what they can't do alone--start family businesses, create American jobs and contribute more to the general welfare. The healthier the community, the more expendable income is available and the lower the burden on social services."
"In my home district of San Jose, one family is making heart-wrenching decisions in order to remain together," he continues. "Judy Rickard recently took early retirement from her job in the California State University system to live abroad six months each year to be with her wife, Karin, who is British. Under current U.S. law, Judy's marriage is not recognized. Why? Because she and Karin are a lesbian couple. Karin can visit Judy in the U.S. only on a tourist visa, which provides her entry to the U.S. for only a portion of each year. Now, Judy is faced with the prospect of having to leave her home in California and go into exile abroad--all to keep her family together."
[The RFA], he notes, "would expand the definition of families to include couples like Judy and Karin. In doing so, it ensures our country has the ability to attract new workers to fuel the U.S. economy, and gives employers, like Judy's, a valuable tool to keep talented Americans on the job, rather than forcing them to leave their employers in order to keep their families together."
"Stories like Judy's," the Congressman writes, "are increasingly the rule, not the exception, when it comes to family unification. Federal laws are literally tearing families apart and separating American citizens from their loved ones. This is wrong, and it is time that American lawmakers do something to protect and preserve the American family."
To read Honda's full op-ed, click here.
Photo via Flickr.
A D.C. Legal Forum on LGBT Immigration Issues
Posted on 05/11/2011 @ 07:29 PM
On June 8th, Immigration Equality's staff attorney, Rosalba Davis, will be a panelist on the June Immigration Community Forum, hosted by the law firm of Maggio + Kattar.
The June forum, titled "Legal Strategies and Advocacy Efforts: Representing Member of the GLBT and HIV-Positive Community," will be held from 9 - 11am at the firm's Washington office, located at 11 Dupont Circle, N.W..
The forum will address the representation of members of GLBT and HIV positive communities by identifying current legal strategies available to assist GLBT and HIV positive clients and as well as on‐going legislative immigration initiatives. Panelists will also discuss the effect of the Administration’s announcement that it will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The panel will specifically address:
Current legislative immigration initiatives that would impact the GLBT community;
What is being done to push these initiatives forward;
What can be done by our community to help advocate for the enactment of these initiatives;
The Administration’s position on DOMA and its potential consequences for the GLBT communities; and,
Current immigration options for members of the GLBT and HIV communities and the use of expert statements regarding country conditions.
Rosalba will be joined by Graeme Reid, Incoming Director of Human Rights Watch’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program,; and James Alexander, Maggio + Kattar, Managing Shareholder.
RSVP to events@maggio‐kattar.com.