Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Urge Executive and Congressional Support for the Uniting American Families Act--Petition 6

by Chris Barnett

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 Ultimately, DOMA must be repealed.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 18 targets, 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!

Letter text:

Pass The Uniting American Families Act

Dear Mr. President, Dear Madam Secretary, Dear Representatives,

I am writing to ask that you please sign on as a co-sponsor of the Uniting
American Families Act (UAFA), HR1537 and S821, introduced in the House by Rep.
Jerrold Nadler and in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy. You have been a
co-sponsor of the bill in the past; we need your endorsement again.

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 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.


[Your name]


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