Today, the United States Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration reform bill by a vote of 68-32. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin released the following statement:
“The bipartisan immigration reform bill passed in the Senate today will benefit millions of immigrants across our nation – including LGBT immigrants,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “We thank Senator Leahy for his steadfast commitment over many years to the LGBT immigrant community and we join our allies in the immigrant and LGBT communities in challenging the House of Representatives to act without further delay and pass the Senate’s bill.”
The Senate’s immigration bill provides a pathway to citizenship for the over a quarter million LGBT adults living in the U.S., and provides an expedited path to citizenship for undocumented LGBT youth who have lived in the U.S. for all or most of their lives and want nothing more than to be recognized for what they are – Americans. In addition, the bill removes the 1-year filing deadline that has arbitrarily denied LGBT asylum seekers refuge in the U.S. when they are fleeing their home countries after being persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Moreover, the bill will lead to more humane treatment of LGBT immigrants who are vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment in the immigration detention system because of increased requirements for immigration detention oversight and a ban on solitary confinement based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to get language in the bill to provide bi-national same-sex couples access to family-based immigration, yesterday’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional will provide welcome relief. Find answers to frequently asked questions addressing some of the questions we anticipate LGBT families with immigration issues will have following the Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act by visiting: www.hrc.org/issues/immigration.
In April, the Human Rights Campaign launched a public education effort within the LGBT community on the importance of immigration reform. As part of this effort, HRC published Inclusive Immigration Reform: Nine Problems Deserving Solutions at: www.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/ComprehensiveInclusiveImmigrationReform.pdf.
HRC chronicled the stories of a diverse group of Americans who are harmed every day by this country’s immigration laws on its blog. In addition, HRC used its presence at LGBT pride festivals across the country to inform and educate the LGBT community on immigration reform. During the Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, HRC activated its members to call on their senators to amend the bill to include language that would provide binational same-sex couples with relief from having to make the decision to breakup or live in exile.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.