Creating a path to citizenship is an LGBT issue

The Task Force commends President Barack Obama for moving forward on immigration reform inclusive of the path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including specifically for DREAMers, and a plan to treat “same-sex families as families by giving U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the ability to seek a visa on the basis of a permanent relationship with a same- sex partner.” While the president did not mention same-sex couples in his immigration speech laying out his broad vision today in Las Vegas, he did address them in the White House principles document.

The Task Force is advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and equal treatment for all, which should include a clear path to citizenship; humane detention standards; asylum for those persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; family unification; respectful and appropriate treatment of transgender and HIV-positive immigrants; and a policy that addresses enforcement needs in a manner that is consistent with existing due process and civil rights laws. You can thank President Obama and let him know that we want immigration reform now and we’re willing to take action with him to make change a reality.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

President Obama today put forth a vision of immigration reform that is inclusive. Today, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are forced to live in the shadows of society.

Creating a clear pathway to citizenship will ensure better and brighter futures not just for them, but for our entire country. America wouldn’t be what it is today without the grit, guts, ingenuity, creativity and work ethic of millions of immigrants who have come to this country with a dream. These dreams built and have sustained America — from science and industry, to agriculture and domestic work, to commerce and innovation. The American dream dies when the dreamers are shut out.

The president’s plan recognizes this, and also addresses the painful and unjust reality facing thousands of committed same-sex couples and their families. His support for ending discrimination against binational same-sex couples acknowledges the cruelty of forcing loving couples to live apart or live abroad; of making them choose between family and country.

We thank the president and urge him to stand strong for the sound and fair principles he put forth today. We stand with immigration rights organizations and activists advocating for full and fair immigration reform for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Respectful treatment of hardworking individuals and families is a most basic American value that we must uphold. Creating a path to citizenship is an LGBT issue.

Yesterday, the Task Force released a joint statement in support of immigration reform with other national LGBT rights organizations. At our National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change last week, immigration was highlighted as an important LGBT issue. Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey spoke of its importance in her annual State of the Movement address, and penned an oped with our opening keynote speaker Deepak Bhargava on why immigration reform must be at the forefront of the LGBT agenda. Immigration reform also took center stage at the conference on Saturday with Jose Antonio Vargas accepting an award for leadership on immigration reform, and leading a panel of DREAM Act activists. The Task Force also encouraged conference attendees and members nationwide to take action and urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.