A group of 60 U.S. House members have signed a letter urging congressional leaders and President Obama to include bi-national LGBT couples this year in comprehensive immigration reform.
Current law prevents LGBT Americans from sponsoring their foreign partners for residency in the United States, impacting an estimated 36,000 same-sex couples and keeping many apart. Signers of the letter say the system in place is “unacceptable” and immigration reform legislation “must include a strong family reunification component inclusive of LGBT families.”
“In truth, no immigration reform bill can be called ‘comprehensive’ unless it includes all Americans, including those who are LGBT,” the letter states.
The group of lawmakers is led by lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Other signers include gay Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) as well as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who sponsors standalone legislation that would address the situation known as the Uniting American Families Act. Still another signer is Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who included similar language in his Reuniting Families Act last year.
Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, said the lawmakers’ letter “signals that our champions in Congress, and the LGBT community, are ready to work for passage of reform that includes all families, including LGBT families.”
“Passage of immigration reform will require every family standing with their neighbors and loved ones to work for change,” she said. “There are more than 36,000 lesbian and gay binational families counting on us to get this work done.”
During his State of the Union address, President Obama identified immigration reform as an item for the congressional agenda this year. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) are developing the legislation for their respective chambers in Congress.