Bipartisan bill marks first step on road to full and fair immigration reform

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a longtime advocate of fair and humane immigration reform, responded to the introduction of a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate. The Task Force is a signatory on this Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform. Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey says:

 This bipartisan bill marks a first step on the road to full and fair immigration reform this country so urgently needs.

There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country — including at least 267,000 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Under our broken immigration system, they are forced to live in hiding, spending every day fearful that they will be discovered, sent into detention, and separated from their families. No one should ever be forced to live this way.

This measure will help create a pathway to citizenship for millions of people who are eager to contribute their skills and talents to this country. This includes many young people — the DREAMers — who love and have always called the United States their home. We are very pleased they will have a more streamlined path to citizenship. The DREAMers, who include countless LGBT youth, represent an investment in our nation’s future.

But the bill, as it was introduced, will also require us to double down our efforts over the next few months as Congress takes up this legislation. It lacks several key components, including how it treats LGBT families. Right now, thousands of binational same-sex couples are threatened with forced separation because they are blocked from sponsoring their partner for citizenship. It is cruel and unfair to force loving couples and their families to live apart — to make them choose between family and country.

In addition, we’re paying close attention to potential barriers to citizenship arising from one’s economic circumstances. We do not believe it is humane to deny vulnerable residents, whether they have citizenship status or not, basic social services. Finally, we want to ensure that the legislation promotes a dignified quality of life for border communities and enforcement provisions that do not contribute to racial profiling or other abusive practices.

Many of the reforms unveiled in this measure will have a positive impact on immigrants, including many LGBT immigrants, but we must keep pushing for reform that leaves no one behind. We are committed to working together throughout the legislative process to get the bill we all need and deserve.