Out4Immigration has always advocated a multi-pronged approach to getting our issues resolved. We have pushed for passage of an Inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform, supported the passage of the Uniting American Families Act, the Reuniting Families Act, the repeal of DOMA (Respect for Marriage Act) and supported the removal of the one-year filing deadline for asylum seekers. And most recently, we pushed for an abeyance policy from the Obama administration with regards to green card applications and making sure that LGBT families are included in ICE's Deportation Guidelines (the so-called Morton Memo which was released in June 2011). These recently revised guidelines will now stop the deportation of partners/spouses of same-sex binational couples where the partner/spouse is without lawful status and in removal proceedings.
Our all-volunteer group did this through education, raising awareness, meeting legislators, forming coalitions with allies in the LGBT and immigration communities and circulating petitions on change.org.
Our last petition on change.org "LGBT Binational Couples Must Be Included in ICE Deportation Guidelines", received about 2,000 signatures. I had the opportunity to deliver this, together with stories from same-sex binational couples and photos from our United by Love, Divided by Law Tumblr blog to the White House when I was there for an AAPI conference last July.
The petition signatures, the stories and the photos, together with the letter sent by Democratic House members urging for LGBT inclusion in the ICE Deportation Guidelines, helped push the Obama administration to finally officially include us in DHS' deportation guidelines.
Now that the election is over and President Obama has been re-elected to a second term, the landscape for moving our issue forward seems even more positive.
We will know by the first week of December if SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) will hear all or any of the DOMA cases. This means that by June 28, 2013, we will know if DOMA is finally ruled unconstitutional and legally married same-sex couples will get federal marriage rights, all 1138 of them (including, of course, the ability of U.S. citizen to sponsor their foreign spouse for a green card!)
In the week since the election, we have also seen both Democrat and Republican leaders coming out vocally in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
President Obama himself said during his Victory Speech and a follow-up press conference that he wants immigration reform in the United States.
It seems from all indications that a Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) bill will be introduced in January when the new Congress convenes.
So, today, more important than ever, we need to continue the push to ensure that:
- We have an inclusive (LGBT-positive) comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced in Congress.
- The LGBT community does not “get thrown under the bus” or negotiated away when CIR comes up for a vote in Congress.
- We demand that the Obama administration fully adjudicate all green card cases filed by same-sex married couples including full fact-finding, conducting interviews to determine the bona fides of the marital relationships, either by USCIS (in the U.S.) or by Consular officials abroad, and then hold a final decision on abeyance until the Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of DOMA.
- We urge the Obama administration to open up the humanitarian parole process to partners/spouses of lesbian and gay Americans, to bring our fellow binational couples back from forced exile and to end the separation of binational couples and LGBT families until DOMA has been resolved by the Supreme Court.
GetEQUAL and the DREAMers have waged a very successful campaign of speaking out, telling their stories and not taking NO for an answer! I believe that we can do something similar to their campaign so that we cannot be ignored anymore!
However, to do that, we will need couples to speak up and tell their stories to the media.
Therefore, we are putting out a call to couples who have suffered under DOMA to come forward and speak up. We can work with you to fine-tune your message as you tell your story.
Please let us know by completing this form (http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn). Submit the form and we will get in touch with you very soon.
Our time is NOW! Stand up and speak out. Many believe we are in the final phases of ending the terrible discrimination we have faced as same-sex binational couples due to unfair immigration laws and DOMA. Join us and be a part of the change.