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UAFA Reintroduction is Counter Productive to Same-Sex Couples seeking Green Cards

Melanie Nathan – April 14-2011

Congressional advocates for LGBT immigration reform launched a ridiculous strategy on Thursday with the reintroduction of the Uniting American Families Act. The only sensible piece of the strategy being  the release of a letter from 48 House members urging the Obama administration in part to suspend deportations faced by married gay spouses.  This launch however is little different to the past 16 years of fighting for Reform in the arena of green cards for same sex couples.

The Thursday letter from Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and Democratic colleagues called on Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to mitigate the discrimination faced by binational married couples following the administration’s February announcement that it considers the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. The 1996 law bars married gay couples from the citizen sponsorship rights afforded heterosexual married couples.

The release of the letter was timed with the reintroduction of UAFA, which would help keep most binational couples together by making family-based immigration inclusive of same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The reintroduction of the UAFA makes no sense to me and is a derivative of the Immigration Equality lobby and quest for survival of the organization.

Two reasons:
1. They already had UAFA caste for success back in 2009 – with a record number of co-sponsors and a majority on both houses with President Obama at the helm. What happened – they tied UAFA to the quest for comprehensive immigration reform (CIR)- spent our  donor money on schmoozing immigration  Latina groups and landed us in the lame duck session in a rah rah for the DREAM ACT – pursuant to their newfound aliances which served to exclude UAFA from its only possible chance of succeeding as a stand alone Bill;

2. Now the climate is different – while DADT has passed and DOMA is up for repeal – why are we wasting time with UAFA- when in fact DOMA will accomplish much more.  We do not need UAFA if DOMA is repealed. Additionally UAFA is not in good shape. Now that marriage is available to same-sex couples in some states, UAFA must change its language from the OLD version – to make way for a more definitive contractual nexus between the parties, otherwise Senator Feinstein will NOT sign on to it.  I have explained this concept in numerous articles.

That said instead of pursuing UAFA – all that energy by Immigration Equality and other organizations should rather be put into special interim Visas for Binational couples – Sunset Visas, similar to the R1 Visa Program and Fiance Visas worded differently to use terms like contractual nexus instead of marriage.

I have no doubt unfortunately – that all the organizations are going to do follow the Pied Piper  again and assume that the immigratin equality lobby knows what they are doing. It is up to binational couples to YELL reintroduction of UAFA is not good enough, hopeless and a waste of time.

VIA THe Advocate:- ” Lofgren, ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, called on the Department of Justice and DHS to suspend deportation proceedings and a put a temporary hold on green card adjudications for gay married couples pending either legal resolution or legislative repeal of DOMA.

“Taking these steps would not flout or disrespect existing law, as it would not provide permanent immigration relief to married couples of the same sex, currently prohibited by Section 3 of DOMA,” Lofgren wrote. “Rather, it would prevent the potentially irreparable harm that would be caused by application of a law that is currently under review by the courts and the U.S. Congress.

“As the country grapples with the question of whether DOMA is constitutional and should be the law of the land,” Lofgren continued, “we ask that you take steps to temporarily preserve the status quo and protect American citizens and their spouses from avoidable harm.”

Lofgren’s letter follows a similar one sent to Holder and Napolitano last week by 12 senators, including John Kerry of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, urging relief for such couples.

But thus far the administration appears unwilling to do so. Asked whether DHS has responded to the senators’ letter, DHS spokesman Adam Fetcher told The Advocate in a statement, “The administration will respond to the members of Congress directly. Pursuant to the Attorney General’s guidance, the Defense of Marriage Act remains in effect and the Executive Branch, including DHS, will continue to enforce it unless and until Congress repeals it or there a final judicial determination that it is unconstitutional.”

TIME for some real leadership on the part of LGBT organizations and advocates.

NOTE MY POSITION: I support Comprehensive Immigration Reform.  I Support the repeal of DOMA. I applaud the reintroduction of ENDA today.  I m angry at the wool over the eyes introduction of UAFA. I want a special VISA NOW for couples in same-sex marriages/ civil Unions/ and fiances.

This administration ought to be ashamed of not having supported and effected this RIGHT before the Republicans took over the House! Advocates in the LGBT organizations – please wake up and change the strategy NOW!

By Melanie Nathan
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7 Responses to UAFA Reintroduction is Counter Productive to Same-Sex Couples seeking Green Cards

  1. Melanie Nathan

    April 14, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Chris thanks for the well balanced analysis – a great deal of which makes much sense. However let me ask a simple question – how many sponsors do we have for DOMA’s repeal? At least every single one of thise sponsors should be cosponsoring DOMA and do we have them> UAFA is accommodating a settling for less attitude while we are in a DOMA repeal mode. What the hell are we doing? Also has anyone asked Immigration Equality if they plan to lobby for UAFA to be part of CIR again? Are we just ATM’s out here at the beck and call of the card holder? My advocacy machine is empty on UAFA – when it is flawwed in the first place. After I met with Sen. Feinstein’s Immigration Legislative staffer back in 2009, she explained that UAFA falls shorty of providing for a contractual nexus – beyond mere proof of couples being in relationship. I pass the message on to Immigration Equality – to Rachel Tiven, Julie Kruse and Steve Ralls – They answered uniformly That is how they dealt with -”Oh Senator Feinstein does not give a heck about gays.” They know its flawed without special language to deal with the contractual aspect of the relationship that is not there without marriage or civil union. Yet they have done nothing to fix it or lobby to fix it. I am sorry but I cannot support UAFA tyhe way it is for the sake of it and because I have no guarantee it will be treated as a stand alone – as opposed to using the binational community to forge phony relationships with the Latino immigration community .

    I dont get taken for a ride more than once – I was the ONLY one of all writers and activists who predicted what was going to happen two years before it did. I told Amos not to join the CIR bandwagon – after Shirley Tan gave evidence we could have had UAFA .

    SO I mam urging everyone to wake UP and do something different. I am the flame in your face binationals , representatives, organizations, activists, parrot bloggers et al – I am saying find a special Visa process and get it passed and done within three months!!!! W can lobby our senators in the summer and look for some special mechanism to move it forward, while promoting DOMA like crazy fiends.

    IF IE want your money tell them to do their friggin work ====== mel

    • FAEN

      April 15, 2011 at 1:07 am

      Mel—How do we find a special Visa process and how do we get it passed?

  2. Chris Barnett

    April 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Interesting take, Melanie. I had not thought of it this way before and, like you, I am suspicious of anything that leads to the donate page. For years I felt that IE had done us all a disservice by not highlighting the need that the UAFA has sought in the past to address. I am heartened by their more focused advocacy on the one hand and know too many good people working with them to write them off completely–though again I cannot blame you for feeling cynical about this. In a comment I made to someone in an email today (this time remarking on Joe Solomnese’s appearance at the reintroduction of UAFA today, as if HRC had anything to do with it) I noted that money makes the world go ’round–but grassroots activism moves it forward. Also, based on my own experience, I find constant requests for money to be disempowering when I have so little to give these days—but I find acting from the grassroots, including writing and speaking about the issues, incredibly empowering. We need to continue to find those ways to empower each other. I would love to see energy and resources going into the directions you describe as a way of finding relief for our families, and I also agree that questions surrounding DOMA changes the context in which we view UAFA. Still, I’d like to encourage not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We have 116 cosponsors coming out of the gate today. We never saw this before and it is amazing. Secondly, we have worked hard for this bill, you I and others, through the years, and we don’t know how this is going to move vis-à-vis full equality vs. piecemeal. For the meantime I still think we have to support this bill–if for nothing else than to stand in solidarity with Jerrold Nadler and to continue to pressure lawmakers. I don’t relish the idea of taking this effort through another Congress and I know you don’t either–but regurgitating something Lavi Soloway said, which makes sense to me, in terms of short, mid, and long range strategies, we need administrative/executive fixes, UAFA, DOMA repeal, respectively. Believe me, where once I would’ve settled for UAFA, now I want more, and I believe ultimately we will get it. But I don’t want to trash the bill like this, rather refocus efforts around it as the terrain is rapidly changing. Just my two cents…

    • FAEN

      April 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm

      Chris-Ive been saying this for a while as well. The UAFA bill has a snowballs chance in teabagger hell of passing. We certainly should keep pressing for it but the larger more complete victory will be the death of DOMA. Again, I don’t see it getting repealed by this congress. No, court rulings are where I see our freedom. I have no idea when the 10 DOMA cases will get to SCOTUS but before that does we need to get as many in congress as possible to speak out on getting rid of DOMA, more pressure from groups such as Get Equal on the President to create a solution for this issue and certainly pressure on law makers to realize this is not something they can sweep under the rug or keep people waiting indefinitely for.

  3. Janice

    April 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Just left this on yet another of their blog posts telling us that they are fighting harder than ever, and not resting until they win………….oh and of course we have to send them more money in order for them to do this!!!


    “Immigration Equality is fighting harder than ever!” “…and we will not rest until it stops!” What happened over the last two years when you stopped fighting and took a rest when UAFA was bundled in with Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which we all knew was going nowhere fast, especially after the last elections in Congress went the Republican way?
    Why bother with UAFA now when you could be putting your effort into the repeal of DOMA? Of course, you won’t be putting the required effort into UAFA again either, so I guess they’re about equal.
    Where did all the money we sent you in the past go? Probably the same way this money will go………down the pan!
    Am I angry…….yes! You gave up at a time when you could of won this fight. What guarantee do we have now that this time will be any different?


    I wonder how long before they start ignoring my comments???

    • Melanie Nathan

      April 16, 2011 at 2:22 am

      dont count on any response -they do not care. They have left a lesbian couple who i sent who have an amazing and good case for asylum hanging in the balance for 2 months- they told them they had a good case, would find them an attorney. Time is running out for the asylum application….. I am going to find them an attorney…. i am even more pissed. I thought they would help on a good strong case. I know not to send them non-winner cases because those they ignore. This is a never again moment for me. i always believed they would act responsibly on a winner case. but they cant even accomplish that!!!

  4. Janice

    April 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I agree Mel.
    I am sick of the never ending crap that continues to come from the likes of Immigration Equality. They have sold us down the river with the time they have wasted on this, not to mention our money they have wasted along the way. I seriously am beginning to think that they are not all that concerned if this fight for immigration rights for the LGBT community continues on for years to come.
    It will keep them in a job won’t it!