Press

Task Force: Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform this year

Date: 
March 17, 2010

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National LGBT rights group to join thousands at this Sunday's national march on Washington, D.C., to demand Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform

WASHINGTON, March 17 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a longtime advocate for comprehensive and humane immigration reform, is joining thousands of people from across the country for the March 21 mass mobilization on the nation's capital to demand Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. The Task Force is an official endorser of the March for America and will be marching behind its banner at the event. (For those wishing to march with the Task Force, meet at 12:30 p.m. at 12th Street, NW and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Just look for the Task Force banner).

During her annual State of the LGBT Movement speech just last month, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey vowed the Task Force would continue to "stand with our allies in the immigration reform movement, come what may."

"If we are truly a community and a movement committed to freedom, justice and equality then reforming our nation's cruel and broken immigration system must be on our agenda for action. Today, there are 12 million undocumented immigrants, including at least half a million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are forced to live in the shadows of our society," she said, later adding, "And, of course, there are at least 36,000 binational couples who cannot live together here in this country because federal law bans recognition of their relationships. So, yes, immigration reform is an LGBT issue."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund is advocating for the inclusion of LGBT immigrants and their families in any comprehensive immigration reform. LGBT families run the gamut of citizenship status, including citizens by birth and naturalization, immigrants, legal permanent residents, and undocumented immigrants. There is a collective stake in making sure all of us are able to participate fully in our communities.

 

Among the other changes the Task Force is calling for:

  • Reform that promotes family reunification and addresses extensive backlogs in processing visas for family members living abroad of those living in the U.S.?
  • Reform that ends discrimination against LGBT binational families and provides Americans in same-sex relationships the same opportunity to sponsor their partners for residency in the United States. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would allow the approximately 36,000 binational couples in the U.S. to remain together.
  • Reform that addresses the detention and deportation of immigrants so that people are not improperly racially profiled or not afforded constitutional due process protections.?
  • Reform that includes labor protections so that migrant and undocumented workers are treated with dignity and respect. Expanded visa programs would assist the many immigrants who have professional worker visas and could benefit from visas in technology, science and medical sectors that are ultimately tied to access to greencards and permanent residency in the U.S.?
  • Reform that includes a workable path to citizenship for those who are undocumented, including support for young people seeking higher education.
  • Reform that recognizes the unique concerns of persecuted immigrant communities, including those seeking political asylum because of homophobia and transphobia, and women and girls who are exploited through human trafficking.

Immigration reform took a prominent place at the Task Force’s National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change last month in Dallas, Texas. Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), gave the opening plenary speech in which he called for comprehensive and LGBT-inclusive immigration reform.

Saenz spoke powerfully about the need for collaboration and partnership with the LGBT community, and of the need to "reintroduce equal protection values into our definition of family — of any kind — under our immigration law. This means enacting the Uniting American Families Act as part of comprehensive immigration reform." Watch Saenz's full speech.

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, founded in 1974 as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund are not tax deductible.