Thursday, March 24, 2011

Get Involved With LGBT Immigration Reform

Connie Utada, Esq.
Policy Counsel
Immigration Equality Action Fund

Every day, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) binational families face separation or are forced into exile because of our country’s discriminatory immigration laws. For tens of thousands of families, the inability for someone in this country to sponsor his or her immigrant partner and children for residency means that families are torn apart and children are separated from their parents. There are no options. Faith traditions teach the values of welcoming and caring for all families, neighbors and communities with love and compassion. Families are the bedrock of any community and it is vital that they remain together.

Immigration Equality, an organization dedicated to ending discrimination in U.S. immigration law, has convened the Faith Coalition for the Uniting American Families Act. Member organizations represent a diverse group of local and national religious groups and faith leaders who believe that any immigration reform effort must also end discrimination against LGBT families. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would end this discrimination, allowing LGBT American citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor their foreign born partner for citizenship. The Faith Coalition for UAFA works for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that includes and treats all families equally under our immigration laws. As a person of faith, you can take action to keep families together and act for what is just. Please See the List of Actions Below.

In the last Congress, UAFA made great strides by being included in the House version of the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709); the immigration reform framework submitted by the Senate Democratic leadership of Reid, Schumer, Durbin, Menendez, Leahy, and Feinstein; and, was most recently included in the Menendez-Leahy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010, S 3932. As a stand-alone bill, the UAFA gained more than 160 co-sponsors in both the House and Senate and we expect that it will be included in any future comprehensive immigration reform package. Still, as Ana White, Immigration and Refugee Policy Analyst with The Episcopal Church, wrote:

The route to immigration reform is not an easy one. Divisiveness and extreme positions are hurdles that we willhave to overcome. …How can we compromise what is the right thing to do? Again, we are committed to policies that treat ALL with dignity. We call for a just world for ALL people and will continue to work for an immigration system that treats ALL families with respect.(link to previous blog post)

Please join us, and be part of our work to ensure that no one is forced to choose between family and country.

Sign onto the Faith Coalition for UAFA letter today, by clicking here.

Present the letter to your congregation and ask members to sign on individually, too. To download and print the letter.
Become a faith spokesperson. If you are interested in speaking to the media about your support for UAFA, email us at:

Contact your Member of Congress and let them know that you support UAFA and the Senate Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010 and its inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act.

Ask binational families in your congregation to share their stories with Immigration Equality.

Promote UAFA in your church bulletin or newsletter, and send letters to the editor of your local papers.

Show your support by displaying pro-UAFA placards and signage at public rallies and events. To request placards, email us at:

Connie Utada, Esq.
Policy Counsel / Immigration Equality
Action Fund
920 U Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
phone 202.347.0908 x115

Immigration Equality is a national organization that works to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, to reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive people, and to help obtain asylum for those persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or HIV-status. Through education, outreach, advocacy, and the maintenance of a nationwide network of resources, we provide information and support to advocates, attorneys, politicians and those who are threatened by persecution or the discriminatory impact of the law.

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