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February 20, 2013 7:48 AM   Subscribe

"We wait for the economy to improve, DOMA to go away, the passage of UAFA, anything to finally allow us to live peacefully in the US near our family. We wait for our time to join those who are fighting for our families." The DOMA Project and why LGBT and HIV Equality Is at the Heart of Immigration Reform

Immigration Equality's Statement on President Obama's immigration reform plan

Marco Rubio Doesn’t Want Immigration Reform to be a Gay Rights Issue

The Effect of DOMA on Binational Couples
posted by roomthreeseventeen (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
We were hanging out with some friends on Monday, playing Cards Against Humanity and drinking bourbon, and one of them told us this story about a friend of hers, a lesbian whose partner is Italian, and said partner - who has half-lived in the U.S. for a number of years - was coming home (i.e. Berkeley) for Valentine's Day but who was turned back at Customs, put on a plane, and sent back to Italy. Because her travel history "raised suspicions." According to our friend, this woman has never overstayed her visa or anything like that. She follows the rules. I think I'm remembering right that they're actually married, but you know, that doesn't count here.

In conclusion, fuck you, Rubio, and your "It’s not a discriminatory thing" because the fuck it's not.
posted by rtha at 8:22 AM on February 20, 2013 [19 favorites]


"The immigration issue has so many landmines and pitfalls that it’s going to be hard enough to do, as is,"

I can't see that Rubio is wrong about that and as Obama is the first person to throw his principles under the bus for political advantage, it seems a good bet that this will not be at the heart of immigration reform. Like he did on health reform, Obama will sign something into law even if it looks and smells as bad as Obamacare. Obama-gration seems unlikely to be any different.
posted by three blind mice at 8:36 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm in a binational gay relationship. Ten years ago, the options would have been to suck it up and deal or move to Northern Europe, and even that option would have been kind of tenuous and only available to those who could afford to do that. (Or who would want to.) But now we live in a day and age when the grass is actually, objectively, greener elsewhere. There are plenty of places around the world where we could be full citizens. And yet our lives are here.

Sometimes I get really grumpy thinking about the shifting landscapes and the way the Earth is just moving under our feet. I feel like we're just along for the ride, and if we can hold on long enough it'll probably all work out, but we're just as likely to be jettisoned somewhere along the way. And here we are, living in Texas which in spite of being home to a whole lot of progressive/sane people, wears its institutionalized homophobia like a badge, and will hold out for absolutely as long as possible on this issue. Meanwhile, we'll just be hanging on for as long as we can.

But I always talk myself off that ledge because my fears and anxieties are all hypothetical and unlikely to ever become a problem, whereas we have friends who are actually facing the possibility of forced separation through deportation - in spite of the fact that they're legally married. We have it so much easier because my partner is a permanent resident and he is eligible for citizenship. But with immigration under the microscope - and with assholes like Rubio and McCain challenging any attempts to include gay couples in immigration reform - who knows what that means for us. Who knows how permanent that residency really is?

Ultimately, it isn't the inequality that is so awful. We've dealt with inequality. We're dealing with it still today. And we'll deal with it for a long long time to come. It is the uncertainty. It is the not knowing whether we'll be able to stay together. It is the wondering if we'll have to uproot ourselves. It is the wondering about the effects all of this might have on the children we'd like to have. It's the uncertainty that is so awful. And we're not going to have any sort of certainty on any of these issues until someone steps up and shows some leadership.

Who is that going to be? Congress? HA. The President? He's probably done what's within his power. The Supreme Court? Historically, they're the institution that has dragged us kicking and screaming into the modern age. But that's a problematic route, at best. They don't want that job, and saddling them with it represents a FAILURE of American political institutions to get it right. So they'll give those institutions one more do-over, and then another, and then another. The Court has no sword and no purse. It has only the scales of justice, and they tip freaking slowly.
posted by jph at 8:54 AM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Who knows how permanent that residency really is?

This is why my mother became a US citizen. And my friend's dad. And my other friend's parents. Not because they were 'proud to become American' or whatever they tried to teach us in school. Because they got scared. I'm not sure what that says about our attitudes towards immigration, but it's not anything good.
posted by hoyland at 9:08 AM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is why my brother and his partner remain in Malaysia, which isn't exactly the most tolerant country. Despite the fact that they both have secure jobs and a comfortable life in KL, they would very much like to settle in the U.S. Until this country recognizes their relationship (partner took my brother's last name and they have been together going on 10 years), that is not a possibility. They had entertained the idea of moving to Germany, but are taking the long view and holding out hope that there will be some sort of change here. I wish I shared their optimism.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:13 AM on February 20, 2013


Of course Rubio doesn't want immigration reform to be a gay rights issue -- the Republicans are currently losing ground on both gay rights and the Hispanic vote. Because of their allying with the religious right, they can't cozy up to gay rights, but there are plenty of Christian, conservative Hispanics who they can go after if Republicans can switch sides on immigration. But if immigration is linked to gay rights, the base won't allow them to switch.
posted by fings at 10:27 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Who knows how permanent that residency really is?

This is why my mother became a US citizen. And my friend's dad. And my other friend's parents. Not because they were 'proud to become American' or whatever they tried to teach us in school. Because they got scared.
posted by hoyland at 11:08 AM on February 20


I'm a permanent resident (in a hetero marriage to an American) and I have thought about becoming a citizen for the same reason. I like America fine, but I really don't care if I become American in any rah-rah jingoistic way. I just want to be left alone. My permanent residency will come up for review in 2018, so at least I have plenty of time to decide. The only thing holding me back is that you have to swear you're no longer whatever nationality you started out as, and while currently the Canadian government doesn't pay any attention to what I might swear to the US government, I worry that the Harper government will see it as renouncing my citizenship. They already took away my right to vote. So I feel all kinds of uncertainty, and as far as the government is concerned I'm straight. I can't even imagine what it's like for everybody else.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:41 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how the media have been presenting the immigration side of ongoing discrimination in the context of fairness, in the context of putting straight couples next to same-sex couples and looking at the consequences of discrimination. I don't know what will happen with DOMA next month, but there has been a cultural shift in how we treat same-sex relationships that is good to finally see.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife has a new PhD student back in the UK where she is still on the payroll part time (we have moved to Chicago). He was at a top tier American school with an outstanding record and could have gone anywhere he wanted. Except he is married to a man from a Central American country (I can't recall which). Frankly, too good of a student to work with my wife and to be a student at my wife's former school and yet there he is because the UK will recognize his marriage while the country he is from will not.

It's not really a gay rights issue or an immigration issue. It's a human rights issue and as long as some people are denied their rights we are all vulnerable to the whims of those who like to deny.
posted by srboisvert at 10:48 AM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is obviously serious and a big issue. But I don't know if it is at "the heart of immigration reform."

The Obama admin has pursued deportations more aggressively than any previous administration, and has deported record numbers of foreign nationals. Elements in the federal government now treat their deportation figures as targets, and are driven to more extreme measures to beat the prior year's numbers.

“There is a lot of concern that criminal removals will fall below not only target but possibly lower than last year’s output," said an ICE bureaucrat in 2012. In order to meet their deportation targets, the administration has apparently begun combing through arrest databases, to "increase its criminal alien numbers by pursuing people with minor offenses like traffic violations."

In my mind it would be a real shame if the Obama admin is able to "pink-wash" its immigration policy by reforming the rules for gay couples, while the machine responsible for unprecedented mass deportations remains unchanged.
posted by grobstein at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is why my mother became a US citizen. And my friend's dad. And my other friend's parents. Not because they were 'proud to become American' or whatever they tried to teach us in school. Because they got scared. I'm not sure what that says about our attitudes towards immigration, but it's not anything good.

Damn straight. I'm becoming a citizen as soon as I'm eligible. I'm not taking any chances and getting that US passport asap.

My brother-in-law's sister just got married in DC to a UK lady. Because of DOMA she can't sponsor her spouse for residency. Thankfully her spouse is at the top of her field and was approved a green card on her own merits. I'll also probably get my citizenship before her though because of the three year for marriage vs five year for everyone else requirement.

Immigration is a scary thing to deal with. It's easy to handwave it away as procedural when you're one of the 3.5% of the world population born in the United States. I firmly believe if people were forced to go through a mock immigration exercise during high school the immigration debate would look vastly different.
posted by Talez at 2:18 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is also true for my x-husband. That is, I urged him to become a US citizen because of how the Patriot Act etc.treated men of his religion and race. Human rights abuses will bite us in the end.
posted by RuvaBlue at 2:55 PM on February 20, 2013


Why should the spouses of American citizens, whether homosexual or heterosexual, have the privilege of living here when it's denied to other people born outside the U.S. who want to live here? My boyfriend is from El Salvandor. Why should he have a greater right to be here if we are married than if we aren't married?

I support open immigration, and would use any political capital I have to fight for that, rather than making sure that gays and lesbians get a chance to participate in discriminatory privilege based on marriage that's currently available to straight people.
posted by layceepee at 4:00 PM on February 20, 2013


I support open immigration, and would use any political capital I have to fight for that, rather than making sure that gays and lesbians get a chance to participate in discriminatory privilege based on marriage that's currently available to straight people.

I'll bite. Families should get to stay together. Having a relative in the US should get you some sort of advantage in immigration, be that better access to visas (under the current system) or faster processing (in some hypothetical system where immigration is easier). In the EU, it'd be pretty easy to construe this as the right to family life. So, we'd need some mechanism for making boyfriends into relatives. Funnily enough, we've got one, at least for opposite-sex couples. It's called marriage. So how could we solve this problem for other couples? I don't know, but it might just rhyme with marriage equality.

You've seemingly advanced the position that marriage open to all is 'discriminatory privilege', but it's not at all obvious what your argument for that is. Unless you don't want relatives to have any advantage in immigration, but I kind of assumed you do based on the mention of your boyfriend.
posted by hoyland at 4:19 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Families should get to stay together. Having a relative in the US should get you some sort of advantage in immigration.

We agree on the first part, which obviously would be simpler with open immigration. For example, when one member of a family emigrated for economic reasons, the rest of her family would be free to join her in her new home.

Why do you think the second part is true? Why should having a relative in the US get you some sort of advantage in immigration?

I understand how my comment about my boyfriend was misleading: I don't think he should have any greater right to stay here than anyone else who wants to do the same thing. I don't think his relationship to me endows him with some greater right to live in the U.S. than anybody else. I think it's unfortunate that many people believe his relationship absolutely should grant him special privileges, but only if he's married and not if he's my boyfriend.
posted by layceepee at 4:55 PM on February 20, 2013


Why should having a relative in the US get you some sort of advantage in immigration?
posted by layceepee at 6:55 PM on February 20


From a strictly pragmatic point of view, immigrants with relatives already living in the place they're moving to have something of a support network ready-made, which makes them less likely to end up requiring government support.

When I immigrated, I had to promise not to request/accept any government aid for ten years, and because my husband was fresh out of university and had almost no credit record, my father-in-law had to promise he'd support me in the event that I couldn't support myself.

I support more openness in immigration policy, but if there's going to be a gatekeeper, I think giving family members preference is rational.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:08 PM on February 20, 2013


We agree on the first part, which obviously would be simpler with open immigration. For example, when one member of a family emigrated for economic reasons, the rest of her family would be free to join her in her new home.

Why do you think the second part is true? Why should having a relative in the US get you some sort of advantage in immigration?


I think I'm really disagreeing with the idea that totally open immigration is remotely realistic as a policy goal. It is however totally possible that we're talking past each other. What do you mean by open immigration? No immigration controls whatsoever? Permission to settle in the US being readily available? War criminals aside, I'm cool with the latter. I just can't imagine it ever happening in a way that allows people to immigrate in a timely manner. If it did, who cares who's related to who?

I do however still reject the notion that there's something wrong with not shooting for the moon on immigration policy.

When I immigrated, I had to promise not to request/accept any government aid for ten years, and because my husband was fresh out of university and had almost no credit record, my father-in-law had to promise he'd support me in the event that I couldn't support myself.

I think layceepee is postulating a system where you wouldn't have to make such a promise. Yeah, it's never going to happen, but that's their argument.
posted by hoyland at 6:13 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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