Immigration Reform Critical for Thousands of LGBT People and Their Families

Today a group of senators introduced a plan for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, including an expedited process for DREAMers.

"This bill as it stands is a disappointment to many communities on many fronts, but it is a much needed first step on the road toward comprehensive federal immigration reform that is critical to our nation as a whole," said Dave Montez, Chief of Staff at GLAAD, "Along with several other LGBT organizations, GLAAD urges a final bill that includes access to immigrant visas for foreign partners of LGBT U.S. citizens and permanent residents. We need to prioritize protecting all immigrants, including LGBT people, under the law and this legislation is the start of making that a reality. We are committed to standing with our allies in the Latino and immigrant-rights communities, just like they have stood alongside LGBT families on a national level and in states like Maryland, Washington and Colorado. "

There are nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, and approximately 267,000 of them are also lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), according to research by the Williams Institute. In many areas, such as detention, asylum, labor and marriage, the system disproportionately harms LGBT people. For these reasons, comprehensive federal immigration reform is an urgent priority for our nation and the LGBT community.

GLAAD is a signatory on this Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform, included below. Organizations interested in signing onto these principals supporting fair and humane immigration reforms can do so by clicking here.

Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform

There are nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, including at least 267,000 who are also lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). The current broken system harms, scapegoats and vilifies all immigrants, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their friends and families. In many areas, such as detention, asylum, labor and marriage, the system disproportionately harms LGBT people. For these reasons, comprehensive federal immigration reform is an urgent priority for our nation and the LGBT community.

Working with immigrant rights organizations, the LGBT groups listed below are committed to doing all we can to educate the LGBT and broader community about the importance of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). We will also focus long-term on community education and engagement efforts that bring together all communities to foster mutual respect and support. We are strongly committed to elevating the leadership, experiences and visibility of LGBT undocumented immigrants within both the LGBT movement and the immigrant rights movement.

Through community education and engagement, we hope to secure a groundswell of support for federal reform among LGBT people and allies, and build durable relationships across all communities and organizations. We call for a bipartisan solution that establishes a pathway to citizenship; protects all families; puts an end to an unjust enforcement system that has torn families apart; protects the rights and working conditions of all workers; upholds border communities’ human rights; and accords all immigrants the rights and responsibilities required for full integration into American society.

We recognize that getting over the finish line will be full of ups and downs. We are committed to working with allies to achieve reform that addresses all of the six principles listed below and leaves no one behind. No matter how challenging the road, however, we will stand with our allies through the end of the process.

Principles

Reform must provide a pathway to citizenship.

We stand in solidarity as partners with the immigrant rights movement in opposing efforts to create a permanent status for new Americans that falls short of citizenship. The road to citizenship should not be dependent on an undue emphasis on border security nor contain roadblocks or unrealistic barriers to citizenship that would cut out many immigrants, including day laborers, domestic workers, caretakers and those with a history of minor offenses. In particular, we oppose barriers that would disproportionately exclude LGBT people who are out of work due to discrimination or who are made more vulnerable as a consequence of their identities.

Immigration reform must ensure that family unity remains at the heart of immigration law and policy.

Immigration reform should protect the unity of all families, including LGBT families, by permitting separated families to reunite, permitting same-sex couples in binational relationships to sponsor immigrant visas and other protections as expressed in the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and preserving the family-based immigration system. The enforcement system must be sensitive to family needs, protect parents’ and children’s rights, and include adequate discretionary mechanisms to protect families against separation.

Immigration reform must end unjust detentions and deportations.

Harsh enforcement laws and policies disproportionately hurt women, members of the LGBT community, people with HIV/AIDS, and people of color. We support reform efforts that include scaling back laws and policies which have resulted in massive deportations of aspiring citizens; ensure that all persons detained are treated humanely and granted access to quality medical and mental health care, counsel, legal information, and other protections; ensure the protection of refugees, women, LGBT people, people with HIV/AIDS, and other vulnerable migrants in detention. The immigration system must provide decision-makers with sufficient discretion to make fair, individualized determinations. We oppose local law enforcement entanglement in the enforcement of immigration laws.

Immigration reform must uphold labor and employment standards and should ensure that the enforcement of immigration law does not undermine labor and employment rights.  Many LGBT people face discrimination in employment. We will stand in solidarity with our partners in the immigrant rights movement in opposing any efforts to exempt classes of immigrant workers from wage and hour standards and health and safety standards. We oppose an immigration system that ties workers to employers without protecting them from discrimination. We oppose efforts to create unrealistic, unfair and unreliable employment verification standards for immigrants, including those involved in domestic work, in order to access a pathway to citizenship.

Immigration reform must promote a dignified quality of life for border communities by establishing oversight mechanisms to ensure border agencies uphold basic civil and human rights protections.

We support reform efforts that establish modern, efficient and safe ports-of-entry. We oppose efforts to postpone opening or making a roadmap to citizenship for new Americans contingent upon “border security” metrics.  

Immigration reform must not relegate immigrant members of our community to permanent second-class status.

We stand against efforts that would strip immigrants of the rights and responsibilities that fully integrated members of our communities deserve, including access to student aid, health care and other benefits.

We urge our nation’s leaders to address a solution that embodies these key principles in order to put our nation back on the road of creating a unified society that values the contributions of all of its citizens, new and old.

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