WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Immigration Equality Action Fund, which advocates on Capitol Hill for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and HIV-positive immigrants and their families, pledged support today for an LGBT-inclusive comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with original co-sponsorship by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), as well as Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Among the provisions included in the Senate proposal is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a bill to end the discrimination LGBT couples face under current immigration law, which prohibits Americans with foreign-born partners or spouses from sponsoring them for residency in the United States.
"Immigration Equality Action Fund is ready, willing and able to rally the LGBT community, and our families and allies, in support of Senator Menendez's bill," said Rachel B. Tiven, the group's executive director. "Today's bill is supported by the top Democratic lawmakers in the Senate, including the Chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Sub-Committee. We stand with them, and our allies in the LGBT and immigrant communities, in supporting reform that honors all families and offers an inclusive vision of America."
The legislation also includes the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young people who enlist in the U.S. armed forces or receive a degree from a U.S.-based college or university. Many DREAM Act-eligible young people also identify as LGBT.
Tiven noted that Immigration Equality's legal team is currently working with couples across the country who are facing imminent separation. The organization has called on the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice, to halt the removal of LGBT spouses. To date, the Administration has declined to do so, and a New Jersey couple – Richard Dennis and Jair Izquierdo – were recently separated when Izquierdo was deported to his native Peru. The couple, who have been together for six years, are now fighting to reunite in the United States.
"No one is served by tearing American citizens apart from their spouses," Tiven said. "The immigration system is decimating families, forcing American citizens into exile and draining the talent and resources available to American businesses and communities. Comprehensive reform is overdue and must be given priority in Congress now."
The group also reiterated its call for a halt to the separation of families until Congress acts.
"As Congress considers legislation to end the unconscionable separation of American citizens from their loved ones, the Administration must also commit to a moratorium on forcibly tearing apart families who would be eligible for relief under this and other bills."
Immigration Equality Action Fund advocates on Capitol Hill for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants and their families. To end discrimination in U.S. immigration law, Immigration Equality Action Fund works to pass the Uniting American Families Act and LGBT-inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The Action Fund lobbies legislators and other policy makers, builds coalitions, and empowers LGBT immigrant families around the country to fight for change.
SOURCE Immigration Equality Action Fund