Immigration Equality Executive Director Rachel Tiven on Monday said she does not expect same-sex couples will be included in the comprehensive immigration reform bill a bi-partisan group of senators could potentially introduce by the end of the week.
“We are not expecting LGBT families to be included in the Gang of 8 bill,” she told the Washington Blade during a conference call ahead of a rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform on Wednesday that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the U.S. Capitol. “That in our minds means that of course the bill is incomplete.”
Tiven’s comments come roughly three months after President Obama publicly unveiled an immigration reform proposal that includes bi-national gay couples. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in February told the Senate Judiciary Committee the White House supports a provision that would allow gays and lesbians to sponsor their foreign-born partners for immigration purposes.
New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Feb. 5 introduced the bill in the House of Representatives with U.S. Reps. Charles Dent (R-Pa.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) as co-sponsors. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif,) House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.,) David Cicilline (D-R.I.,) Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.,) Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.,) Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) are among those who support UAFA.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy a few days later announced he reintroduced UAFA in his chamber with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as a co-sponsor.
Nadler acknowledged to the Blade on Monday “it appears unlikely that the Senate’s initial immigration text” will include LGBT-specific language.
“This is disappointing but not particularly surprising,” he said.
Tiven said she remains hopeful members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will revisit the issue once they begin to debate the “Gang of 8” bill.
“We expect and we hope that senators on the committee will allow a full and open amendment process that provides an opportunity to fix the flaws in the base bill of which the exclusion of Uniting American Families Act is one,” she said.
Nadler took a similar tone as he expressed Leahy’s efforts to include UAFA as an amendment to the bill in committee before it reaches the Senate floor.
“I will fight like hell to ensure that LGBT-inclusive language remains in any House and Senate conference report,” Nadler told the Blade. “The ultimate goal is, of course, not how we pass LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, but that we make certain that such a bill lands on the president’s desk.”