The long awaited Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) was introduced in the house yesterday by Rep. Luis Gutierez. This bill, designed to be a “comprehensive” reform of the nation's broken immigration system has something for everyone, except gay and lesbian families and couples. We are left out of the bill entirely. As the law stands now there is no legal way for a same-sex couple to avail itself of the immigration rights and opportunities available to all other classes of people. The United States simply does not recognize us as Family, our marital status does not matter, the time we've been together does not matter, nothing matters. To the US immigration system, gay couples have no standing whatsoever. Therefore, if you are an American citizen with a foreign-born spouse or partner, you are forced to choose between exile or living apart. Right now the current estimate of affected couples, widely believed to be an undercount, is 36,000. It is more likely that the number is closer to 90,000. All these couples are forced to live apart, in fear of deportation or in exile. Rep. Gutierez was the subject of an intense letter-writing campaign encouraging him to include our familes. Under pressure from the Catholic Church (who else?) he has apparently caved and left us out. This is a huge setback for those of us who have been active in promoting immigration equality and are still waiting for someone to help us get the laws changed. Unfortunately, this issue is either not known or overlooked by the mainline LGBT organizations. The HRC puts it far behind other issues like school bullying and library books. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would add “permanent partner” to the immigration regulations which now apply only to “spouse”, has been introduced in each Congress since 2000. While it has currently 118 co-sponsors in the House and a companion bill in the Senate with 18 co-sponsors, it is unlikely to move due to the unwillingness of the Democratic party to address our issues. This slap in the face from Rep. Gutierez is just the latest betrayal of the Democratic party toward its LGBT supporters.
The summary of the bill can be read here: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/CIR_ASAP_2009_Summary.pdf