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It is time for action on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Crossposted on apaforprogress

On April 29th, 2010, Sen Schumer, Sen Reid, Sen Menendez, Sen Durbin, Sen Feinstein and Sen Leahy introduced a framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) providing a blueprint of what the upcoming CIR bill will look like.

Last week, Rep Gutierrez, who introduced his own Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill in November last year, held a press conference with Rep Quigley and Rep Polis, last week announcing his support for including LGBT Families in comprehensive Immigration Reform and vow that Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill will not proceed if LGBT Families are not included.

He said “Comprehensive immigration reform must be truly comprehensive and by that I mean that the provisions of the Uniting American Families Act, that would help same-sex couples secure legal immigration, must be a part of immigration reform,” Gutierrez said.

Both the framework introduced by Senate Democrats and the press conference held by Rep Gutierrez are of important significance.  

Firstly, by laying out clearly the plan that the Democrats have with regards to Comprehensive Immigration Reform – it gives us an idea of what to expect when the bill is finally introduced.  We hope that it also means that the Democrats are finally ready to tackle Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year before the mid-term election as the timeline for passing immigration reform has been a moving target since last June.

Secondly, when Rep Gutierrez introduced his CIR bill in November 2009, LGBT Families or the language of Uniting American Families Act were not included.  I am glad that Rep Gutierrez changed his mind and realized finally that LGBT Families are families too and should be included.  Family unification is the bedrock principle of America’s immigration laws, and same-sex partners in committed relationships must be allowed to stay together, just like heterosexual couples can!

Thirdly, when Rep Mike Honda introduced his Reuniting Families Act last June to reduce the backlog faced by applicants who applied under the “family reunification principle”, he included the language of the Uniting American Families Act in his bill.  However the companion bill in the senate introduced by Sen Menendez excluded LGBT Families.  We are therefore very glad that Sen Mendendez has changed his mind too by appearing with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen Schumer at the press conference introducing the Senate Democrat’s framework which included LGBT Families.

The recent action by the state of Arizona that requires all their residents to carry papers showing proof of citizenship is both wrong headed and discriminatory.  It gives authorities too much unchecked power to stop people on the streets so that they demand to see their papers.  I am glad to see many organizations and cities stepping up to speak out against the law, SB 1070.  However the bigger reality is that (1) the United State’s immigration system is broken and has been broken for a long time and (2) our country is in need of immigration reform to fix or completely overhaul the immigration laws.  The last time our country overhauled the system with a comprehensive immigration reform was in 1960’s – fifty years ago.  It is about time that congress review the immigration laws of this country and reform it now.

You could be an undocumented student who have grown up and have graduated high school in this country; or you have applied for a green card under family reunification principles and have been waiting for a decade for the green card to be approved; or your dad is a WWII veteran who is Filipino and you want to be able to live in this country with him; or if you are an LGBT American unable to sponsor your spouse/partner for a green card – we are all in need of action from congress to fix the broken immigration system.

The immigrant communities and its allies, have marched on the streets both in their local town and in DC urging for immediate action on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and nothing has happen yet.

It is now way past due for congress to start taking action on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  

It is time that they provide a path to legalization for those undocumented aliens.  They have worked here and paid their taxes, they may have started a family here and brought their kids up here – we should allow them to seek a path of legalization here in this country.

It is time that they reduce the backlogs being faced by green card applicants who applied under the family reunification principles.  It is gratuitous cruelty to expect families members to be separated in two different countries for 10 years or more while waiting for the green card to be approved.  We need reform that will reduced the back logs.

It is time that LGBT Families that are included in Comprehensive Immigration Reform so that an LGBT American will be able to sponsor their partner for a green card just like a straight couple is allowed to do.  For too long, LGBT Families are treated as legal strangers by the federal government and sometimes classified as an overstay risked and be denied entry into this country.  We need to address this injustice and made sure that LGBT Families are included in CIR.

It is time to make sure that undocumented students who grew up here and completed their education here be given a path to legalization so that they could work and start contributing to our society.

The framework introduced by the Senate Democrats are a good step but time is running out for real solution to our broken immigration reform.  Congress needs to step up and complete Comprehensive Immigration Reform this year.  They need to realize that everyday that a CIR bill is not passed addressing all the problems, lives are at stake here!  Families are being torn apart and separated and we need a fix now!

President Obama, Majority Leader Senator Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi – it is time for action on Comprehensive Immigration Reform!  It is time for you to fulfill your promise to our country to overhaul our immigration system!  

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Amos Lim

Amos Lim