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LGBT Groups to Senate Judiciary Committee: Amendments to Immigration Legislation Must Provide Reasonable and Fair Path to Citizenship

Erik Olvera, NCLR, 415-392-6257 x 324, 414-994-3242 (cell), eolvera@nclrights.org
Monica Trasandes, GLAAD, 323-634-2025, Trasandes@GLAAD.org
Inga Sarda-Sorensen, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 202-641-5592, ISorensen@TheTaskForce.org
Kristin Ford, United We Dream, 202.570.6441, Kristin@unitedwedream.org

May 21, 2013

Following is a statement regarding amendments to the Title II provisions of the immigration bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee will debate this week.

The statement can be attributed to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, United We Dream and Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, Equality Federation, National Center for Transgender Equality.

“Comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform is an urgent priority for our nation and the LGBT community. Our primary goal is to pass a reform bill that puts our nation’s undocumented men, women and children on a pathway to citizenship.

“As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates amendments this week, the LGBT community stands in strong support of changes to the bill that will create the most accessible pathway to citizenship possible and allow all undocumented immigrants the opportunity to become citizens. Key amendments are being debated this week that will have a lasting impact on whether family unity is upheld as an American value. Immigration reform will not be successful unless our public policy is in line with one of the main factors driving migration: family unity. We cannot make our immigration policy into a series of painful choices that benefit only some and hurt others.

“This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on amendments that would provide young immigrants -- DREAMers -- with an expedited path to citizenship. This includes young people like Carla, a 23-year-old LGBT immigrant who just received deferred action status. Carla and her parents came to the United States from Mexico to escape poverty when Carla was two years-old. While Carla felt comfortable telling her friends and family she’s gay, she did not tell even her best friend that she’s undocumented. After more than 20 years in this country, thriving in the classroom, aspiring to become a social worker and contributing to her community, Carla should have the full rights of citizenship.

“Some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced amendments that would take away the path to citizenship for Carla and all 11 million undocumented Americans, despite the fact that 71 percent of Americans support the Senate’s current plan, according to a recent survey by America’s Voice. We ardently oppose draconian amendments that would make immigrants permanent second-class citizens and create undue hardships along a pathway to citizenship.

“Immigrants who arrived in the U.S. after Dec. 31, 2011, should also have a path to citizenship. The cutoff date for eligibility, and other unfair and unwise restrictions, will leave hundreds of thousands families out of the process and create all the same moral and practical problems with which we began. We need a cutoff date that won’t leave anyone without a pathway to citizenship. Is it fair to deny someone that opportunity because they came to the U.S. last January rather than December? That is arbitrary and punitive.

“The LGBT community strongly opposes amendments that would prevent immigrants from applying for Registered Public Immigrant Status – a status necessary to be able to work– because of minor infractions such as a single DUI.

“We oppose an amendment that would require immigrants to maintain an income four times higher than the poverty line (over $90,000 for a family of four) for the entire 10 years prior to applying for a green card. Undocumented immigrants face significant economic inequity; they have a median income that is $14,000 less per year than the median household income for U.S.-born residents. This is a particularly unrealistic requirement for undocumented immigrants who are LGBT. LGBT people are more likely to live below the poverty line than their non-LGBT peers.  LGBT people often face devastating employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and there are currently no federal protections against such discrimination.

“As the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to debate critical amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, the LGBT community will continue to fight for provisions that will keep families together and provide a clear and direct path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented Americans, including 267,000 LGBT immigrants, in this country.”