By Melanie Nathan, March 19, 2010. This Immigrant nation and gay (LGBT) activists have been waiting for a “Senator Schumer immigration reform bill; ” forever- or so it feels, especially for the bi-national LGBT community of Partners in same sex relationships who have begged for immigration equality for decades. Yet our plight remains a dirty little secret.
Since President Obama came into office, with immigration reform a campaign promise- set for his first year in office, we have been assured of an introduction of a Bill, on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. The promise has been that Senator Schumer would author a bill, not an Article!
Today Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat from New York and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, co-authored an article (not a BILL) which appeared in the Washington Post, which I have quoted in full below.
“The Right Way to mend immigration: Per Washington Post.
By Charles E. Schumer and Lindsey O. Graham
Friday, March 19, 2010
Our immigration system is badly broken. Although our borders have become far more secure in recent years, too many people seeking illegal entry get through. We have no way to track whether the millions who enter the United States on valid visas each year leave when they are supposed to. And employers are burdened by a complicated system for verifying workers’ immigration status.
Last week we met with President Obama to discuss our draft framework for action on immigration. We expressed our belief that America’s security and economic well-being depend on enacting sensible immigration policies.
The answer is simple: Americans overwhelmingly oppose illegal immigration and support legal immigration. Throughout our history, immigrants have contributed to making this country more vibrant and economically dynamic. Once it is clear that in 20 years our nation will not again confront the specter of another 11 million people coming here illegally, Americans will embrace more welcoming immigration policies.
Our plan has four pillars: requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.
Besides border security, ending illegal immigration will also require an effective employment verification system that holds employers accountable for hiring illegal workers. A tamper-proof ID system would dramatically decrease illegal immigration, experts have said, and would reduce the government revenue lost when employers and workers here illegally fail to pay taxes.
We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card. Each card’s unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card; no government database would house everyone’s information. The cards would not contain any private information, medical information or tracking devices. The card would be a high-tech version of the Social Security card that citizens already have.
Prospective employers would be responsible for swiping the cards through a machine to confirm a person’s identity and immigration status. Employers who refused to swipe the card or who otherwise knowingly hired unauthorized workers would face stiff fines and, for repeat offenses, prison sentences.
We propose a zero-tolerance policy for gang members, smugglers, terrorists and those who commit other felonies after coming here illegally. We would bolster recent efforts to secure our borders by increasing the Border Patrol’s staffing and funding for infrastructure and technology. More personnel would be deployed to the border immediately to fill gaps in apprehension capabilities.
Other steps include expanding domestic enforcement to better apprehend and deport those who commit crimes and completing an entry-exit system that tracks people who enter the United States on legal visas and reports those who overstay their visas to law enforcement databases.
Ending illegal immigration, however, cannot be the sole objective of reform. Developing a rational legal immigration system is essential to ensuring America’s future economic prosperity.
Ensuring economic prosperity requires attracting the world’s best and brightest. Our legislation would award green cards to immigrants who receive a PhD or master’s degree in science, technology, engineering or math from a U.S. university. It makes no sense to educate the world’s future inventors and entrepreneurs and then force them to leave when they are able to contribute to our economy.
Our blueprint also creates a rational system for admitting lower-skilled workers. Our current system prohibits lower-skilled immigrants from coming here to earn money and then returning home. Our framework would facilitate this desired circular migration by allowing employers to hire immigrants if they can show they were unsuccessful in recruiting an American to fill an open position; allowing more lower-skilled immigrants to come here when our economy is creating jobs and fewer in a recession; and permitting workers who have succeeded in the workplace, and contributed to their communities over many years, the chance to earn a green card.
For the 11 million immigrants already in this country illegally, we would provide a tough but fair path forward. They would be required to admit they broke the law and to pay their debt to society by performing community service and paying fines and back taxes. These people would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English before going to the back of the line of prospective immigrants to earn the opportunity to work toward lawful permanent residence.
The American people deserve more than empty rhetoric and impractical calls for mass deportation. We urge the public and our colleagues to join our bipartisan efforts in enacting these reforms.
Charles E. Schumer is a Democratic senator from New York. Lindsey O. Graham is a Republican senator from South Carolina. “
Noticeably missing is any reference to LGBT bi-national immigration equality. Why? Because same-sex partner immigration equality is just that! Immigration Equality – it falls within the realm of the issue of equality – not in the realm of an issue of immigration.
The reason for this is because from our LGBT stand point we are not fighting for our partner’s privilege to immigrate to the USA. Instead, we are fighting for our own American right to sponsor our partners/ spouses in the same way as our fellow heterosexual Americans get to do, under the current immigration law.
Straight American couples have a right under the current (yes broken) immigration law to petition their spouses for a green card. We want the same right, whether under a broken or mended system. We want our equality. Plain and simple.
However, we may find ourselves in check-mate. Unable to move! This quandary was prophetically reflected in numerous posts that I have written here on www.lezgetreal.com and on www.oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com for almost a year.
The concern is reflected in an e-mail to a bi national American same-sex spouse today from the Senator himself, who penned this while at the same time releasing the above Article .
Here is what he said in the e-mail:
Date: March 18, 2010
Subject: A message from Senator Charles E. Schumer
Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the Uniting American Families Act of 2009. I agree that our immigration system is in serious need of reform and I am currently working with my colleagues in both parties to devise a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that would effectively address the many flaws that exist today.
The failure to recognize permanent partners in the application for legal permanent residency is a major concern for many Americans. I share this concern and am a cosponsor of the Uniting American Families Act of 2009, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit permanent partners of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses of citizens and lawful permanent residents.
I support this principle of immigration reform and I am working on introducing a comprehensive package that would address this issue along with a host of immigration issues, including a pathway to legalization, the future flow of immigrants and border enforcement measures.
At this time, I believe that the only way to pass meaningful and effective immigration reform is through a comprehensive bill, not through piecemeal legislation. The successful design and passage of this bill would be a watershed in how we deal with all aspects of immigration in this country and I am committed to fair and comprehensive reform which is necessary to rectify the many deficiencies and weaknesses of our immigration system.
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views about this important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me If I can be of further assistance on this, or any other matter.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator”
Does this mean that the Senators will explicitly include UAFA or such language in the immigration reform bill and if so why does Schumer not simply say so, instead of talking around it the way he does here? Schumer says that there can be no “piecemeal legislation” which means, to my way of thinking, that he must include LGBT bi-national language in the immigration reform bill. Yet he has failed to set this out as one of the building blocks in his current article. There is a sense that he has yet to work out how he is going to do this.
What this does this all mean? The letter written in conjunction with today’s article is confusing. I think we are owed an explanation. On the one hand the Senator is suggesting that we stop lobbying for UAFA as a stand-alone – which he says he has co-sponsored – and he says he supports our cause.
The Senator is stating that immigration equality is an immigration issue – if he truly believes this he cannot exclude us from the Reform Bill. This may be good news – but I certainly hope we can hold him to these words.
Senator Schumer if you are reading this, thank you – we are going to hold your feet to the fire and ask that keep your word. We want immediate inclusion and not to be an after thought. My question is – should we stop lobbying for UAFA ? It would certainly help for you to come out and tell us exactly where we stand. Respectfully, I urge you to include us in your articles, we do not want to continue to be anyone’s dirty little secret.
by Melanie Nathan, email@example.com