Congress, these are real people's lives: Stop draconian amendments to immigration reform

What's the latest in immigration reform news? The U.S. Senate is considering amendments that make draconian demands for excessive and unfair enforcement provisions and border armament, which GLAAD along with several of the nation's leading LGBT advocacy organizations are advocating against.

The proposed 13-year roadmap to citizenship is too long as it is and already excludes many people (among other things, because of income requirements to meet 125% of the Federal Poverty Level), and so these punitive provisions make that road even more difficult and less accessible to the 11 million undocumented immigrants (267,000 of whom are LGBT) in the U.S.

What's currently being considered in the U.S. Senate:

  •  Harsher enforcement mechanisms for immigrants.These will have a negative impact on all immigrants, but disproportionately so on immigrants who are LGBT, whom studies have shown receive harsher punishments than their non-LGBT peers — especially in the case of LGBT people of color.
  •  An amendment that would continue to deny health benefits to immigrants five years after they become legal residents. Even though they could be eligible for citizenship after 13 years, they wouldn’t be able to get certain health care subsidies for at least 15 years and possibly longer. 
  • Amendments that would require undocumented immigrants to pay back taxes and limit their access to Social Security retirement benefits

How do these provisions impact all immigrants and their families negatively?

  • Undocumented immigrants as a whole 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. Requiring to pay back taxes and limiting their access to Social Security retirement benefits is unrealistic requirement for all undocumented immigrants, but particularly for those who are LGBT, as LGBT people are more likely to live below the poverty line than their non-LGBT peers.  
  • Because  undocumented immigrants (including those who are LGBT) have a median income of less than $14,000 year than the median household income for U.S.-born residents, access to affordable health care is especially important.  This disproportionately impacts undocumented LGBT immigrants because they are more likely to live below the poverty line than their non-LGBT peers. Moreover, LGBT people are unable to get health benefits for their partners and children because of a lack of family recognition.These factors make access to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid particularly crucial for the LGBT community

The U.S. Senate is debating amendments that go against the will of the American people. A bipartisan poll conducted by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies found 80% of Americans support reform that includes citizenship for undocumented immigrants; and most polls show citizenship favored by a 2-1 margin, with support even from Republicans. Latino Decisions polling shows that Latino voters are watching the debate closely and want results.

As it stands,  immigration reform will only benefit some and will exclude many others, even within the same family; like college-educated openly LGBTQ undocumented immigrant Jorge Gutierrez and his undocumented mother, who is a domestic worker

We must pass humane immigration reform that provides a clear and direct path to citizenship and does not throw up unnecessary roadblocks. Every day we fail to reform our system, 1,100 families are torn apart. As a nation, we pride ourselves on keeping families united, and our immigration policies should reflect our commitment to keep families together – all families.