Today, the Senate introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included many important provisions but did not include critically important protections for same-sex binational couples and their families. Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal:
“We are pleased that Congress is moving forward on this vital issue. Reforming immigration will protect millions of immigrants seeking a decent life and make our country stronger. But those who dismiss the needs of LGBT families and suggest that we can only protect some, but not all people are not being true to deeply held American values of fairness.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Uniting American Families Act that would ensure that binational same-sex couples and their families are not torn apart is not included in this proposed bill. There is still time to include this provision in the bill, and we urge the Senate to do so.
“LGBT undocumented immigrants are among the most invisible of the invisible. Many inhabit a double closet, afraid of disclosing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and afraid of disclosing that they are undocumented. Our current immigration system is broken. Gross inequities in our country’s current immigration system disproportionately harm LGBT people and people living with HIV – in extremely grievous ways. Without a path to legalization, LGBT and HIV-affected immigrants who are victims of hate crimes or who experience discrimination or other civil rights violations often are deterred from seeking justice out of fear of arrest or deportation. Furthermore, many immigrants rely on asylum and immigration relief for protection from persecution in their home countries based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status.
“The LGBT community knows all too well what can happen when legislative proposals pit communities against one another – we cannot let that happen. We urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides decent and fair treatment for all immigrants, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) or who are living with HIV.”
Kevin M. Cathcart