Thursday, March 25, 2010

Text of Amos Lim's Speech at San Francisco Immigrant Rights Rally, San Francisco

March 24, 2010

My name is Amos and I am from Out4Immigration.

US Immigration laws are primarily based on the fundamental principle of family reunification. Family is also one of the most fundamental pillars of American society. However, we all know that the immigration system is broken, bogged down with bureaucratic delays and in need of much reform.

A lot of you are separated from your spouse, children, sisters and brothers for years, even decades - I am here to tell you, this is happening to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender families too. And I stand here in solidarity with all of you.

While some of you can see a light at the end of the tunnel due to the family reunification principles - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender families, like my family can't.

That is because Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Because of that law, same sex binational couples are treated as legal strangers even though we might be legally married or civil unionized or domestic partnership-ed. In fact, if the INS finds out about the relationship, the foreign partner might be classified as an overstay risk and be denied entry into this country.

My husband is an air force veteran and now works as a pharmacist in an independent pharmacy in the Mission. His primary expertise is in HIV patient care and his patients love him. However, even though we have been together for 14 years, are legally married in the state of California and have adopted a beautiful daughter, in the eyes of the federal government, we are legal strangers. He, the American citizen, has no right to sponsor me for a green card.

I consider myself one of the lucky few that have secured a green card through my employment, but not everyone is that lucky. That is one of the reasons why Out4Immigration exists - we are a group of same-sex binational couples struggling to stay together, forced to choose between love and country.

According to estimates from the 2000 census, more than 36,000 same-sex binational couples currently living in the United States are affected by this issue. There are also thousands more that have been forced to leave this country to live in exile in one of the 19 countries that recognizes our relationships for immigration purposes. It is time for this country to recognize our relationships, my relationship, and stop separating us from our partners.

The Uniting American Families Act will change this. The bill, if passed, will simply add 3 words "or permanent partners" after the word "spouse" in the Immigration Nationalization Act. These three simple words would stop immigration discrimination against same-sex binational couples. It would allow the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender American citizen the right to sponsor his or her foreign partner.

I am speaking in support of an INCLUSIVE Comprehensive Immigration Reform that includes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Families. By including the language of the Uniting American Families Act, Comprehensive Immigration Reform WILL truly be comprehensive and inclusive so that finally an LGBT American can sponsor their partner for a green card and be able to stay together.

We need your help to make sure that any Comprehensive Immigration Reform that is introduced will include MY family, OUR families, ALL families. And we should work to ensure that no group (not MY family, not YOUR family) gets left out of immigration reform so that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is truly comprehensive and inclusive.

Thank You.

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