Urge Congressional and Executive Support of the Uniting American Families Act--Petition 6
Out4Immigration (O4I) is an all-volunteer, grassroots organization addressing the widespread discriminatory impact of US immigration laws on LGBT Americans in loving and committed relationships with a same-sex partner from another country. Due to federal laws that continue to define “spouse” as a relationship only between a man and a woman, and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibits the federal government from recognizing our relationships, Americans in same-sex binational relationships remain unable to keep their families together in this country by sponsoring their foreign partners for legal residency in the US.
Until DOMA repeal takes place, The Uniting American Families Act (or UAFA, House Bill 1537 and Senate Bill 821), seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by adding the designation “permanent partners” wherever one finds the word “spouse”. This is a temporary fix to discriminatory laws that will give same-sex binational couples access to the system already in place for heterosexual couples to sponsor a foreign spouse for legal residency.
We are asking Representatives and Senators to support equal immigration rights for same-sex binational couples by becoming co-sponsors of the Uniting American Families Act. We also seek the active support of President Obama and Secretary Napolitano to secure the bill’s passage.
The effort to end this discrimination through UAFA is well over a decade old. Awareness is growing about this injustice and the many injurious facets of DOMA and how that legislation impacts this issue. Ultimately, DOMA must be repealed. Until that day, our fight to achieve immigration equality is being waged on three fronts: legislatively, with bills like UAFA; judicially, with the Department of Justice decision to no longer defend DOMA in court as well as several important rulings this year which have closed cases against foreign spouses of Americans facing deportation; and administratively, with pressure being applied to the President, the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to exercise their power judiciously to stop deporting and separating loving couples.
This petition focuses on a legislative fix for this problem by targeting members of the House who have been previous co-sponsors of UAFA, as well as President Obama and Secretary Napolitano. By signing and promoting this petition, you will help us encourage these individuals to support this bill and raise awareness that there are many avenues to correct the immigration discrimination faced by same-sex binational couples. We ask that our government and elected officials use their powers and influence to fix the problem - now.
We encourage you to take part in this campaign by using any of these options:
(1) The easiest one. By signing this week's petition on this Change.org page, you will be sending the same letters to our eighteen targets of this petition, all at once. You can also provide the link to your friends and family to take action too, as well as promote on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites you may use;
(2) Contact each of the elected officials targeted here with your own letter, your own story; or
(3) Create a booklet telling your story. See http://tinyurl.com/o4i-toolkit1 for more info on this option.
(4) Look for past petitions on our page at http://www.change.org/out4immigration/petitions and sign those petitions too.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to call our recent co-sponsors and thank them for their support. Let’s hit our target of 1000 signers this week. Please share this widely, and thank you for taking action!!!
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!
As you may be aware, because of DOMA, same-sex binational couples are subjected to gratuitous cruelty under current US immigration laws and are often forced to make heartbreaking decisions to maintain their relationships. Some couples go “off the grid” with an undocumented partner, living in daily fear of the horrific possibility that their lives can be ripped apart at any moment when the undocumented partner is discovered and deported. Other couples are forced into exile, leaving the United States to be with the person they love. Still others try to maintain a long distance relationship visiting each other once a year, if they can even afford it. Often these American citizens are forced to abandon careers they have worked a lifetime to build. Many times these citizens leave behind aging parents and/or young adult children who rely on them and suffer immensely from their loss. Always, all leave behind communities - and in a greater sense, a country - that has benefited from their ongoing and active participation. No matter the scenario, everyone loses.
The federal government is obviously aware of this discrimination. This year US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) issued a memorandum as to how to proceed with deporting immigrants in same-sex binational relationships in light of the Administration’s decision to no longer support section 3 of DOMA. Additionally, several immigration rulings this year have shielded the foreign spouses of an LGBT American facing deportation proceedings and halted that process. Director John Morton of Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued new guidelines this summer suggesting that foreign spouses of LGBT Americans should be treated with prosecutorial discretion when facing deportation. It is time that America’s LGBT citizens are finally granted the same immigration rights and privileges afforded their heterosexual counterparts.
Multi-pronged approaches are being pursued through executive, judicial, and legislative fixes for this issue. UAFA seeks to provide LGBT citizens and permanent residents the right to sponsor their partners for immigration by legislatively granting one right denied by DOMA. The legislation includes the same process and penalties as applied in heterosexual sponsorship applications. Same-sex couples are forced to meet the same burden of proof validating their relationships as heterosexual couples.
By co-sponsoring UAFA again, you are reaffirming your commitment to equality for every American, as well as the ideal that no American citizen should be forced to choose between the country they love and the person they love.
We look forward to seeing your name among the co-sponsors of UAFA once again. Many people are depending on your support and endorsement of this critically important issue.