CIR ASAP is without a doubt one of the most progressive pieces of legislation we have seen, especially when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. But progressive reform is not radical and in negotiations around policy it is often those that need the most help, some of the most marginalized in our communities, who get left out in the cold in the name of the greater good. Luis Gutierrez’s bill isn’t any different.
From the start, the language of the bill is grandiose, referring to the U.S.’s commitment to families and civil rights and yet the bill leaves out members of the immigrant community where I live, GLBT families.
From the bill:
Dividing American families is not a moral or just solution to the broken immigration system. We need policies that treat all families equally and keep them together, to support each other and build strong communities.
Unless you are a GLBT family? From the ACLU’s response to the Gutiettez’s bill:
…it fails to include immigration
parity provisions that would allow gay U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their permanent partners for permanent residency, an immigration right that heterosexual spouses have long enjoyed. Without these immigration parity protections, immigrant families in the U.S., including many with U.S. citizen children, will continue to be torn asunder.
On more than one occasion I asked if GLBT families would be included in the bill and here in the official presentation we all see the answer. No. From a strategic point of view, one reason why GLBT families are excluded is because of the large support from faith organizations. When I say faith organizations, I am specifically speaking of Evangelical Christian groups and Catholic organizations, the same organizations who made sure that marriage equity did not happen in states like mine (NY) and the same organizations who supported amendments like Stupak in the health reform bill. But I have a suggestion based on recent statements from a so-called superstar in the Evangelical movement, Rick Warren (trust me I didn’t think I would ever quote him either).
Last week, Pastor Warren, who gave the invocation at Obama’s inauguration and not without controversy, made a public statement opposing the Ugandan legislation that increases penalties for being gay (including prison time). Warren said that he opposed the law because it was “unjust, extreme, and in-Christian”.
Now, let us imagine an undocumented family who wants to take advantage of the proposed CIR legislation. Let’s even say they have children because plenty of LGBT families do. They cannot. Under the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), rights would be provided to the children or step-children of a foreign-born same sex partner. But UAFA language is not included in the Gutierrez bill.
I want to make a very specific call out to the faith based organizations and Congressman Gutierrez, and ask them to tell a child who is part of a LGBT undocumented household that excluding their family from immigration reform is just and Christian. As a country we can’t go pointing fingers at other countries when right here we are proposing laws that exclude and because of that exclusion condemn families to separation, deportation, and detention.