Immigration Reform Efforts Are First Concern For Undocumented LGBT People

| by Khier Casino

People in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community who are on the lookout for citizenship, visas, green cards, refuge and asylum in the U.S. have also been impacted by the government shutdown.

The delay of the Senate’s immigration bill by House Republicans did not stop California lawmakers from passing a law to give new driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

“When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice,” Governor Brown said. “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the state of California.”

Even though the federal shutdown has overshadowed immigration reform efforts, it is still an important subject for same-sex couples who are raising children. According to a report released in March 2013 from the William Institute, an estimated 41,000 children are being raised by same-sex couples that include a foreign-born spouse or partner.

Other key points found in the report include:

- An estimated 33,500 foreign-born men and women who are part of a same-sex couple are raising children under age 18. Among noncitizens in same-sex couples, 41 percent have children, compared to 19 percent of naturalized citizens in same-sex couples.

- Same-sex couples with two foreign-born partners are most likely to be raising children. Nearly six in 10 same-sex couples in which both spouses or partners are noncitizens are raising children, and the number of children is estimated at 12,400.

Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 1, Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, discussed the significance for comprehensive immigration reform, and how stonewalling the reform causes problems for LGBT people.

“We won’t live in the shadows in fear of being deported or detained,” she wrote. “As a lesbian, I’ll be there to say to the 267,000 of us who are undocumented and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender that the country we love shouldn’t make us live in two closets anymore.”

One essential part of Kendell’s message to members of the House is to “improve conditions for people held in detention, limit use of solitary confinement, and prohibit its use based solely on a detainee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”