A project of the Center for Community Change

FIRM calls for LGBT inclusion in immigration reform

Statement by the Executive Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement’s (FIRM) Immigrant Organizing Committee on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)

We are moved by stories of bi-national couples who are fighting to keep their families together amidst a broken immigration system.  Thousands of bi-national couples who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) are at risk of separation.  With no clear pathway towards legalization nor federal recognition of same-sex couples, these couples live constantly in a state of fear or exile.

We believe that keeping families together should be an integral part of comprehensive immigration reform.   We believe that we strengthen our communities and our nation when we support the right of all families to stay together, including LGBT families.

This is why we support the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

UAFA would add the term “permanent partner” to those sections of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that apply to legally married couples.  Under UAFA, a “permanent partner” is an adult who is in a committed, intimate relationship with another adult in “which both parties intend a lifelong commitment.”  This legislation would afford equal immigration benefits to permanent partnerships as exist for married heterosexuals.

While we believe that comprehensive immigration reform will benefit lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants, we recognize that the intersection of migration, sexuality and gender expression impact LGBT immigrants in disparate ways.   Issues of detention, deportation and asylum are not only issues of dignity for LGBT immigrants, but often also issues of safety.  We must remember these experiences in the struggle for immigration reform.

We need solidarity across movements in order to build the power necessary to achieve justice for all our communities.  Such solidarity means that we recognize the multiple ways that people across lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability experience immigration.  We must work to build strategic relationships that lift up the most vulnerable among us in the struggle for just and humane immigration reform.  This includes the lives and experiences of LGBT immigrants.

Marissa Graciosa, director of FIRM, says:

“There is power in our diversity, but we must honor that diversity.  And it starts with keeping all families from all backgrounds together.  This is why we support the Uniting American Families Act.”

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