Give the First 22,000 Diversity Lottery Winners Their Green Cards, Then Fix Your Computer Error
Because of DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act), Americans in same-gender relationships with foreign partners have no right to sponsor those partners for legal residency in the US. Options for same-sex foreign partners of American citizens to obtain legal residence and remain in the US are extremely limited.
One of the few areas where some of our families are given an equal chance at US residency has traditionally been the Diversity Lottery conducted by the US State Department. Names of individual applicants from an approved list of countries are randomly selected by computer. If your name is one of the 100,000 chosen from millions of applications – you can apply for a green card. The odds are nearly incalculable, but each year the diversity lottery gives many same-sex binational couples hope and a chance to an equal path to US citizenship.
On Friday, May 13 it was announced that a “computer error” occurred during the selection process of this year’s diversity lottery for green cards. We are pushing to right the wrong we know has occurred at the expense of at least one of our members, and perhaps other same-sex binational couples, too.
Although 22,000 hopeful applicants had already been informed of their “win”, they have since been told that the lottery, which is meant to be random, was not. It will have to be restarted – and all those who were already making plans to move forward with their lives in the United States would need to stop. They did not win a chance to apply for a green card; in fact they lost. All of these individuals whose hopes were raised, saw them suddenly dashed. Their names will be re-entered into the lottery, but they go back to the game of chance.
Out4Immigration knows the discrimination and injustice of the current immigration system all too well. That’s why we are asking supporters to sign the petition demanding that those who have the power and authority to do so, re-instate the original 22,000 diversity lottery winners. This week we write to President Obama; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale; and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Committees on Homeland Security.
Our immigration system is badly broken and needs to be fixed. Start by fixing something that wasn’t broken until last week.
Out4Immigration (O4I) is an all grassroots volunteer organization. Each week we target members of Congress and other elected and appointed officials with our weekly petition urging them to do something to change the unjust laws that keep same-sex binational couples from fair and just immigration rights.
You can visit Out4Immigration at its website, through its Yahoo Group Page, on Facebook and Twitter, or at its blog. If you know someone in a same-sex binational relationship, please encourage them to speak up and get involved. The time for justice is now!
- Attorney General Eric Holder
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Under Secretary Judith McHale
Every year, thousands of same-sex binational couples apply for the Diversity Lottery run by the US State Department. The Diversity Lottery is one of the very few paths in which all applicants are treated fairly under US immigration law. If the same-sex foreign partner of an American citizen is chosen in this random process, he or she can apply for a green card. Being shut out of fair and just treatment at virtually every other level of the immigration system due to the federal government’s refusal to recognize loving and committed same-sex relationships makes a Diversity Lottery win for a same-sex binational couple a triumph over the odds of gratuitous cruelty.
On May 13, it was announced that due to a “computer error” the first 22,000 names selected in this year’s Diversity Lottery would be rendered null and void. These 22,000 individuals, including some same-sex foreign partners of American citizens, were told their names would be re-entered into the process, but their odds were back to where they were when they initially applied. It is unconscionable to dash the hopes of these individuals who have already been notified of their “win”.
We at Out4Immigration respectfully demand that you honor the letter which serves as a contract notifying these individuals of their opportunity to apply for a green card. While we are sure that the computer error that has led to this travesty is being fixed, we urge you to examine the human error that is inflicted daily against same-sex binational couples in general. As you are aware, LGBT Americans in loving and committed relationships continue to be denied the right to sponsor foreign partners for legal residency.
For now, the diversity lottery remains one of the few paths for some same-sex binational couples to be treated fairly under US immigration law. We hope that next year, same-sex binationals are no longer reliant on this path and that our relationships – be they legal marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships -- are accorded the same treatment as that applied to opposite-sex binationals. This will allow the diversity lottery to truly address the population for which it is intended, for those from “underrepresented countries which have been less represented in employment and family-based preference categories in the United States of America.”
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