MY DEVIL IS ADVOCATING ………
IMMIGRATION EQUALITY (.org) is calling for support of RFA Reuniting Families Act) The Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709) because it includes Lesbian and Gays. In this article when I refer to CIR I include RFA http://hosted.vresp.com/404947/1f3d6f0ec5/135453617/57f5af7acc/
If the devil did not advocate, success would go unappreciated. My hope is for the success of Mike Honda’s bill on CIR and that it will include the LGBTQ community in every respect of our right for immigration equality. It would be remiss for comprehensive immigration reform to refuse our community and hence any such bill penned by a democratic author must include our community, that is a given. But should it distract us?
Immigration Equality, a leading LGBT organization, performing excellent lobbying work and policy making on behalf of our community, have lobbied on behalf of the preeminent Bill in support of Gay and Lesbian immigration equality, The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, H.R. 1024, S. 424) and is now also advocating for the support of the Honda legislation. They are extending their support by asking our community to participate in a campaign promoting CIR. In my continuing efforts to advocate for LGBT immigration rights and UAFA and in my representation of Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, I would be remiss if I did not find my devil to play advocate.
If we expend so much time and our limited lack luster resources on advocating specifically for CIR do we risk being sacrificed as ‘lambs to the slaughter’ only to get dumped at the end of the road when democrats make a deal to garnish the hold out votes of few Republicans for CIR?
Comprehensive Immigration Reform **is controversal in itself- why add us to the mix? There are significant issues which will continue to cause resilience and fragmentation amongst our representatives in Congress including the very friends of immigration reform. Issues such as amnesty and fines will continue to keep this legislation at bay, religious rights will use as as an excuse to dump all and any reform, whether garnished under family reunification or not. If we add LGBT to the mix, that could be the savings account used in a trade-off against these issues. The writing is so on the wall, exemplified by President Obama’s failure to mention UAFA or any immigration reform for LGBT rights today.
I believe we may be selling ourselves short of UAFA’s strong identity for OUR equality – which if pressed may be the very angle that gets us passage of this critical legislation- especially with support of OBAMA and increasing co-sponsorship? While we may not see an early accomplishment of CIR, we stand a chance of progressing to EQUAL RGHTS if equality is the issue.
Obama is all ears if he hears from us in a BIG LOUD WAY – the stories – our time should be spent working on the Obama Administration with the help of our representatives specifically to include UAFA for our immigration reform.
If DOMA is repealed such will in effect beg the very question on the issue of gay marriage in so far as it pertains to immigration reform. If we can marry only in some States how will the repeal of DOMA help us establish immigration rights without UAFA? It is not appropriate to ask our community to marry in a non-domicile State that allows same sex marriage, because there are complications when it comes to jurisdiction in matters of divorce- by virtue of residency requirements and ‘locus standi in judicia. Further how do we know the effect of a repealed DOMA on the wording in any CIR legislation such as RFA as it impacts immigration rights for LGBT partners/spouses? This is a big unknown. Is the New York based organization, Immigration Equality in working with UAFA and becoming strategically involved in RFA, a bet hedging strategy? Is it possible that we may be ‘shooting ourselves in the toe’ by setting ourselves as the ‘out’ for legislators who may deem it prudent to ask us to wait for passage of the new bill RFA, and thereby have an excuse to shirk direct support and attention to UAFA. Valuable players who we are still trying to court to co-sponsor UAFA such as Senator Dianne Feinstein should not be provided with this kind of excuse, instead we should be working directly with her staffers to address her concerns, and find solutions for the perceived holes in UAFA – to work to ensure the necessary amendments. What is the meaning of Immigration Equality’s reference that RFA includes UAFA?
I have a gnawing intuition that the current state of the journey to immigration equality is at great risk if we do not keep our focus 100% to UAFA and if we do not push now while the political climate and shift in power is much improved.
I am wondering if there has been any collaboration on the questions and concerns I have raised n this piece, not only on a lobbying level but in the prima facie deliberation between the various organizations involved in the lead on this twofold plan?
If Immigration Equality (.org) is putting its limited resources into this strategy will its lobbying efforts for UAFA suffer? Will the donations to support Immigration Equality (.org) continue if it is assisting CIR rather than maintaining its focus purely on our own community?
While I think it is important to bless HONDA, et al, for ‘ doing the right thing’ with support of CIR legislation and its process, I am not sure that overt lobbying on behalf of CIR by our organizations with our limited resources does anything more than add complexity to the issue and risk the concentrated focus that UAFA requires.
I truly believe we can get UAFA passed and I also believe that the lobbying will require much more in the realm of re-drafts and additional clauses in alliance with the legislators such asSenator Feinstein. We should all gather around a massive and coordinated grass root effort to influence our representatives all around this country, with an enormous marketing plan and talking points, without any variance from our ultimate goal.
For the first time UAFA is receiving main stream attention with articles, news, TV, blogging, social media highlighting stories that many have never been heard. To my way of thinking we are juststarting, given that UAFA was only reintroduced a few months ago. To deviate is risky and a slap in the face to the progress that has been made in such a short space of time.
The stories of Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado, Gordon Stewart and Renato, Martha and Lin McDevitt –Pugh of Love Exiles Foundation to name but a few, are only just starting to provide the attention the issue deserves. Great strides are being made through the letter writing campaign organized by the San Francisco based all volunteer and grass root organization, OUT4Immigration, gaining ground thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers such as Kathy Gina, Belinda , Amos, Mickey, Marina et al.
International press has been following Love Exile Foundation at www.loveexiles.org. The very powerful Marriage Equality group has appointed an Immigration coordinator, Chris Waddling PhD. now forging important alliances. Shirley Tan, a powerful asset to this cause is receiving an increasing amount of attention and has inspired many to step up to the cause. Shirley and her family advocate now for UAFA – they have been the subject of a story in People Magazine, (40 million readers) many newspaper opeds, news, TV, blogs, articles and her testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on UAFA at you tube has received almost 30,000 hits. Time to move forward and add to the momentum.
Resolutions are being authored in State Assemblies around the US in support of UAFA, including the recent one in California (Resolution 15 authored by Rep Kevin de Leon) with a hearing in Sacramento, scheduled for August this year.
This all said, the devil’s advocate says what if…….? In listening and hearing we must wake up and not rest on our laurels, let us look for great leaders and not rely purely on non-profit lobbying. We must take responsibility while holding those whom we support accountable for not only their spending of our donated dollars and time, but also for the decisions they are making.
I look forward to hearing from you all on your thoughts as well as some education if you think I am wrong or misinformed.
Thanks for your continued support –
** WEBSITE OF CONGRESSMAN HONDA
Rep. Michael Honda to Announce Key Component of Comprehensive Immigration Reform: Reuniting Families
WASHINGTON D.C. (Today) – Chairman of the Asian Pacific American Caucus, Rep. Michael Honda, will hold a press conference on Thursday, June 4, at 12:00 p.m. on Cannon Terrace, or in case of rain Cannon House Office Building Room 441, to present key components of a comprehensive immigration package, in preparation for President Obama’s reform agenda. Joining the Congressman will be other Members of Congress and supporting advocacy organizations. Rep Honda will discuss his Reuniting Families Act, to be introduced in Congress this week, and the need to reform America’s family-based immigration system to end lengthy separations of loved ones, promote family stability and foster the economic growth that immigrant families have provided throughout our history. ”