THE BLOG
04/11/2013 02:06 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2013

LGBTQ Inclusive Immigration Reform

I have been fighting for the full inclusion of LGBTQ voices in immigration reform since 2008 along side many powerful undocuqueer people. We have gone a long way and we still have much to accomplish so our movements can be united. Needless to say, for us in GetEQUAL, immigration reform is needed and it is a moral imperative for our country. This legislative battle has become a focal point in our organizing because of the lived experience of some of our leaders, including myself.

Recently, a leader in the LGBTQ movement announced that she does not expect the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) to be included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) -- thereby excluding binational same-sex couples from the bill. I have to say that I am not entirely surprised -- Washington, D.C., is still stuck in a '90s mentality, rather than looking at the 2013 political landscape. The country has seen a sharp uptick for LGBTQ rights, yet our congressional leaders are still debating whether protecting these families is an component in the CIR effort.

It would naïve to believe that Congress is considering CIR out of the goodness of their hearts. Republicans and Democrats are trying to deliver on immigration reform to court the Latino vote -- we all know that Latinos hold the keys to the White House. So let's explore how Latinos are actually feeling about the inclusion of protections for same-sex couples...

Since 2010, Latinos have led the country on LGBTQ rights. In 2012, an exit poll by ABC showed that 59 percent of Latino voters support same-sex marriage. That's not all -- another poll shows that 64 percent of Latinos specifically support the inclusion of UAFA into CIR. Family is one of the most important institutions in the Latino community -- this includes our extended family. So when a cousin, a sibling, or any family member comes out as LGBTQ, a shift of attitudes rapidly takes place within the family.

The Latino community wants families to be together. I'm one part of the 40,000 families affected by UAFA. If this legislation is included in CIR, my family will be able to finally find freedom from the fear of deportation. I am also one of the 267,000 undocumented LGBTQ immigrants in this country. I have a real stake in this debate and in the destinies of the thousands of people who may be left out.

This is not all! Senator Portman, Senator Kirk, and Senator Hagan have all endorsed marriage equality, but they have shady records on immigration issues. Wouldn't it make sense to include UAFA so they feel more compelled to vote for CIR when it hits the Senate floor? Senators in the Gang of 8 are making a moral, electoral, and political mistake if they don't include UAFA in the baseline bill.

As we continue to fight for a fair pathway to citizenship, the end of harsh enforcement, the inclusion of binational couples, and a more fair asylum application process in CIR, we will also fight in coalition for worker's rights, to protect future migrants from any attempt to reduce family visas, etc. Millions of people can be excluded from this process and it is our duty to make sure that their voices are heard. Women, LGBTQ people, asylum seekers, day labors, farmworkers, and families seeking to reunite are in the list of the most vulnerable immigrants in this process. Any wrong turn may lead to their exclusion. We will soon see a bill, and I'm ready to fight through the amendment process so we can achieve immigration reform that protects families, honors the human dignity of immigrants, and finally creates a functional immigration system. If you want to join me, my husband, and thousands of others in the fight for inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform, add your name here:

http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6535/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7631.