March is National Coming Out of the Shadows Month

From the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL):

This March 2013 will be our fourth annual National Coming Out of the Shadows month, a time when we work with undocumented people, families, lgbtq community, students, and workers to tell our stories publicly as part of a strategy to humanize the immigration issue, and show the urgency and necessity to advocate for a stop to deportations and immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. This year, we are really interested in highlighting the stories of people who are still facing criminalization, deportation and detention – particularly those who are not eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and communities under-represented in the immigration debate.

In 2010, by coming out of the shadows undocumented young people were able to affect the national dialogue on immigration by putting a face to the issue, and by inserting our own ideas about policy and strategy, and I believe we were able to have an important impact. With over 409,000 deportations in the last year, and a potential for bi-partisan immigration reform, we feel like it is our responsibility to support people who still face the fear of deportation every day as well as those who might not be included in an immigration reform policy (such as same-sex couples, transgender immigrants, lgbt detainees), and those whose families continue to be broken up as these discussions happen.

March 1, 2013 / 1 de marzo, 2013, 7:00-9:00 AM
Coming Out Undocumented at Broadview Detention Center
Sin Papeles y Sin Miedo en el Centro de Detención de Broadview
2405 17th Avenue, Broadview, IL.
Transportation provided from Chicago at 6:30 AM. Habra transportación desde Chicago a las 6:30 AM.
E-mail for details/ Mandanos un e-mail para obtener detalles:
Event info:

MARCH 10, 2012 / 10 de MARZO, 2013, 12:00 PM
Plaza Federal/ Federal Plaza
Event info:

March 16, 2013 / 16 de marzo, 2013, 2:00-5:00 PM
Coming Out of the Shadows in DuPage County
Sin Papeles en el Condado de DuPage
1 Friendship Plaza, Addison, IL
Event info:

More resources and a full listing of events online, at

Congressman Gutierrez: As Momentum for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Grows, Nadler and Bipartisan Coalition Introduce Uniting American Families Act to Provide Immigration Equality for LGBT Families

Feb 5, 2013

Members assert: UAFA must be a part of any comprehensive immigration reform proposal

President Obama, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, House champions of immigration reform endorse UAFA and LGBT-inclusive immigration legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, led a bipartisan coalition of congressional champions of immigration reform and civil rights in re-introducing the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

UAFA would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their permanent partners for legal residency in the United States, a right currently enjoyed only by married heterosexuals under immigration law.  Because the U.S. does not legally recognize gay and lesbian couples and their children as families, many same-sex bi-national couples are torn apart.  As the push for comprehensive immigration reform increases in Congress, the original co-sponsors asserted that any legislative proposal for immigration reform must include UAFA and equality for LGBT families.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also plans to introduce UAFA in the Senate.

“Today, thousands of committed same-sex couples are needlessly suffering because of unequal treatment under our immigration laws, and this is an outrage,” said Nadler.  “Our Constitution guarantees that no class of people will be singled out for differential treatment – and LGBT Americans must not be excluded from that guarantee.  Moreover, any serious legislative proposal for comprehensive immigration reform absolutely must include gay and lesbian couples and their families.”

“We must continue to strike down the barriers of discrimination wherever they exist,” said Leader Pelosi. “As we work toward comprehensive immigration reform, we must ensure that the value of all families is valued, respected and recognized in the eyes of the law.”

“It is imperative that our immigration system recognizes and upholds the value of keeping all families together, said Whip Hoyer. “Discrimination of any kind, including against same-sex marriages, has no place in our nation. I am proud to stand with Representative Nadler as he reintroduces the Uniting American Families Act to ensure that our laws protect and treat committed bi-national same-sex couples with the respect they deserve.”

“Our laws ought to reflect reality and the full diversity of what family means in the United States today,” Gutierrez said.  “I will fight for UAFA because it is the right thing to do and because it protects the interests of all families.”

“Our immigration system has always recognized the value of keeping families together,” said Conyers.  “But when it comes to legally married same-sex couples and domestic partners our immigration law says those families don’t count. I am pleased to join my colleagues today to stand against this discrimination and to protect the unity of all families.”

“The Uniting American Families Act reflects our values as Americans, prioritizing the sanctity of the family unit,” said Polis. “Instead of continuing to discriminate against same-sex couples, this important legislation would help reduce family backlogs, grow our economy and improve the effectiveness of the immigration process. This common-sense legislation is part of the solution to how to fix our broken immigration system.”

“Today’s bipartisan reintroduction reminds us that LGBT immigrant families live in Democratic and Republican districts,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality.  “Voters sent a clear message in November: they support treating everyone – gay and straight, citizen and immigrant – with dignity and respect.  These are true American values.  As Congress moves forward on long overdue immigration reform, lawmakers must include UAFA as part of that effort.  Our immigration laws must reflect the diversity of our beautiful country and must protect families and family unity.  We are grateful to Congressman Nadler for his decades-long leadership on this issue and to his House colleagues from both parties who have joined our efforts.”

“Americans should never be forced to choose between love of family and love of country.  Yet our nation’s discriminatory immigration laws often require bi-national same-sex couples to uproot their lives and move abroad in order to keep their families together,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “Today we applaud the bi-partisan reintroduction of the Uniting American Families Act, which affirms that our nation’s committed and loving bi-national same-sex couples deserve the same dignity, respect and opportunities as everyone else.”

“U.S. immigration policy is supposed to be based on the principle of bringing and keeping families together, but the system is broken. Instead of unification, the policy often results in painful separation of loved ones,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  “This must change.  Thousands of binational same-sex couples and their families have been kept separated or forced to live abroad.  This discriminatory practice is unfair and inhumane.  No one should ever have to choose between their partner and their country or be denied the freedom to be with their families.  The Uniting American Families Act will change this inequity.”

UAFA would add the term “permanent partner” to sections of the Immigration and Naturalization Act that apply to married heterosexual couples.  “Permanent partner” is described as an adult who is in a committed, intimate relationship with another adult in “which both parties intend a lifelong commitment.”  This legislation would afford equal immigration benefits to permanent partners as exist for married heterosexuals, and it would impose the same restrictions, enforcement standards and penalties as are currently in immigration law.

At least 31 countries currently allow residents to sponsor gay and lesbian permanent partners for legal immigration, including: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Salon: GOP senators wary of LGBT protections in immigration reform

GOP senators wary of LGBT protections in immigration reform

Protecting binational same-sex couples would make it “harder to get it done,” said Marco Rubio


Republican members of the “Gang of Eight,” the bipartisan group of senators who rolled out an immigration reform framework last week, have thrown cold water on the prospect of including protections for same-sex binational couples in the legislation.

The most recent skepticism comes from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said at a BuzzFeed Brews panel: ”I think if that issue becomes a central issue in the debate it’s going to become harder to get it done because there will be strong feelings on both sides.”

He added that the lawmakers ”haven’t really discussed the pros and the cons of it” yet, but ”I imagine that issue will eventually be confronted.”

President Obama, who made his own immigration reform roll-out last week, said that he supports extending the same right to legally married binational same-sex couples, currently prevented by DOMA, for spouses to file for a green card for their partner.

Last week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also expressed reservations about the proposal, which he painted as a non-starter for immigration reform. ”Which is more important: LGBT or border security?” he said at a Politico event. “I’ll tell you what my priorities are. If you’re going to load it up with social issues, that is the best way to derail it, in my view.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed that including the provision would essentially kill any legislation: ”Why don’t we just put legalized abortion in there and round it all out.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at More Jillian Rayfield.

Washington Post: In immigration debate, same-sex marriage comes to the fore

In immigration debate, same-sex marriage comes to the fore

By and , Published: February 2

In his final legislative act as a senator, Secretary of State John F. Kerry sought to resolve an international dilemma. He filed Senate Bill 48, seeking “permanent resident status for Genesio Januario Oliveira,” a gay Brazilian national facing deportation because he does not qualify for a spousal visa.

Now, President Obama is aiming to grant same-sex couples such as Oliveira and his American husband, Tim Coco, equal immigration rights as their heterosexual counterparts. The proposal could allow up to 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships to apply for legal residency and, potentially, U.S. citizenship.

But the measure has inspired fierce pushback from congressional Republicans and some religious groups, who say it could sink hopes for a comprehensive agreement aimed at providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The standoff may force Obama to choose between two key interest groups — Hispanics and gays — that helped power his reelection in the fall. The president must weigh how forcefully to push the bill, known as the Uniting American Families Act, while not endangering a long-sought deal to resolve the status of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Latino.

The same-sex measure was not included in the immigration proposals issued last week by a bipartisan Senate working group, whose overall framework Obama largely embraced. Several key Christian groups that have supported the White House’s immigration push have objected to the measure on the grounds that it would erode traditional marriage.

The issue has prompted an intense lobbying effort on both sides, including a letter to the White House from a coalition of influential church organizations and a series of urgent conference calls between advocates, administration officials and lawmakers.

For Obama, the political sensitivity was evident in the public rollout of his immigration plans last Tuesday. Although the same-sex provision was included in documents distributed by the White House, the president did not mention it in his immigration speech in Las Vegas.

“The president in his plan said that you should treat same-sex families the same way we treat heterosexual families,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said Friday on “Political Capital With Al Hunt.” “It’s wrong to discriminate. It’s a natural extension of the president’s view about same-sex marriage, the view about providing equal rights, no matter who you love.”

But congressional Republicans immediately condemned the idea and warned that the measure imperils broader immigration reform. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of the senators on the eight-member bipartisan working group on immigration, said at a Politico breakfast last week that injecting social issues into the debate over immigration legislation “is the best way to derail it.”

“Which is more important: LGBT or border security?” McCain said, using an abbreviation for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. “I’ll tell you what my priorities are.”

ehind the scenes, the lobbying efforts began before the president’s speech. A coalition of religious groups — including Roman Catholics, evangelicals and Southern Baptists — delivered a letter to the White House last week opposing the same-sex measure.

“It’s an overreach,” said Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy and public affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which signed the letter. “Immigration is hard enough as it is and adding another controversial issue to the mix makes it even harder. I’m surprised the administration would risk sacrificing 11 million people over this issue. It’s very combustible.”

‘We’re always worried’

On a White House conference call with interest groups after Obama’s appearance in Las Vegas, the first question was from an evangelical activist who objected to the provision. Religious groups pushed back again Wednesday on another White House call, according to a person who participated in the conversation.

On the other side, several Senate Democrats, including Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.), had a conference call with gay organizations blaming Republicans for not including the same-sex provision in the bipartisan immigration proposal.

The advocates were told that Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would offer an amendment to include the provision in any comprehensive legislation that is formally introduced, according to a person involved in the call.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of same-sex couples wait in limbo. Although the Obama administration has been using its prosecutorial discretion to avoid deporting partners who are illegally in the country, many couples say uncertainty makes it impossible to plan for the long term.

“It’s on our mind every day,” said Coco, who has been married to Oliveira since 2005 and lives in Haverhill, Mass. “We’re always worried about our future.”

Obama — who endorsed same-sex marriage in the spring — received broad support and significant campaign funds from the LGBT community. On the campaign trail, Obama often touted as a major achievement his administration’s ending of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays.

“He’s proven that especially on lesbian [and] gay issues, when he stands up and works for change, that the American public and Congress comes along with him,” said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for Immigration Equality, a group pushing for same-sex immigration protections. “That will be the case here, too.”

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, national field director of GetEqual, a gay civil rights organization, said Obama gave a “really strong vision” for gay rights in his inauguration speech last month.

“I hope that’s more than words and will actually bring concrete actions,” Sousa-Rodriguez said. If Obama does not fight hard for the same-sex provision, he added, “I’ll be highly disappointed.”

Not all gay rights groups are united. Some activists said they would not stand in the way of an immigration deal without the same-sex couples provision if the alternative was no reform deal at all. These activists said an overall policy encouraging citizenship could help up to 700,000 illegal immigrants who are estimated to be gay.

Questions of timing

In the meantime, the Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that mandates marriage benefits only for heterosexual couples. Some gay rights advocates said that if the court strikes down the law, perhaps as early as June, the question of a same-sex provision in immigration law could be rendered irrelevant.

That’s little solace for Coco and Oliveira, who spent three years of their marriage apart, after an immigration judge ordered Oli­veira to return to Brazil in 2007. Only after Kerry, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made personal appeals for the couple in 2010 did immigration officials grant Oliveira a one-year visa on humanitarian grounds.

With that ruling expired, Kerry stepped in again Jan. 22 with his final Senate bill on behalf of Oliveira, who will be allowed to stay in the country as the legislation is deliberated. Coco, an ad agency owner, doesn’t expect it to be approved.

“It took a while for President Obama to evolve on gay marriage, but the nation has evolved much further if you look at the public polls,” Coco said. “I believe the president has some obligation to push the envelope. The time has come.”

BuzzFeed Article: “Senators Championing Immigration Reform Have No Answers For LGBT Immigrants”

Senators Championing Immigration Reform Have No Answers For LGBT Immigrants

“We’ll be working out those details,” Sen. McCain says. A potentially perilous issue moving forward.

Rebecca Berg

BuzzFeed Staff


WASHINGTON — A bipartisan framework for immigration reform unveiled by a group of senators Monday does not include protections for LGBT immigrants — and lawmakers didn’t want to talk about it.

When asked whether the issue had been discussed among the eight lawmakers who designed the plan, Sen. John McCain, one of the four Republican senators behind the proposal, declined to delve into specifics.

“We’ll be working out those details,” McCain said simply.

It’s a discussion that will almost certainly take place at some stage in the debate over how best to reform the nation’s immigration system.

On Monday, as the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” unveiled its plan to beef up border security and offer amnesty to immigrants already in the country illegally, lawmakers in both chambers appeared poised to engage in a serious debate on immigration reform.

But, during a press conference that lasted for nearly an hour and featured five of those eight senators, the controversial topic of immigration protections for LGBT couples was not raised once.

The question of how to extend laws to apply to LGBT couples has recently doomed other prominent legislation.

Last year, LGBT protections were among the factors that led House Republicans to kill a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act — an outcome that likely remains fresh in the minds of lawmakers of both chambers.

BuzzFeed Article: “LGBT Groups Call For Same-Sex Couples To Be Protected In Immigration Plans”

LGBT Groups Call For Same-Sex Couples To Be Protected In Immigration Plans

“Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to,” the groups state.

Chris Geidner
BuzzFeed Staff


WASHINGTON — As a broad immigration reform framework is being unveiled on Capitol Hill Monday and President Obama plans to address the issue in Las Vegas Tuesday, several leading national LGBT organizations came together Monday to urge all involved to include protections for same-sex couples in any reform.

“Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law,” four leading LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, announced Monday.

Currently, the federal government does not grant green cards to the foreign same-sex partners of American citizens, as are available to opposite-sex spouses, citing the Defense of Marriage Act. The practice has resulted in couples separated in some cases, couples leaving the U.S. in other cases, and foreign partners remaining in the U.S. beyond their applicable visas.

Although Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered that same-sex couples be considered to have a “family relationship” — a factor in deciding whether prosecutorial discretion is appropriate in a given deportation case — the underlying green card issue remains.

The Uniting American Families Act, a version of which has been introduced in the past several congresses, would address that disparity in treatment. It has been included in Democratic plans for comprehensive immigration reform in the past, but has not been mentioned thus far in terms of the bipartisan Senate framework being formally unveiled Monday.

HRC, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Immigration Equality and National Center for Lesbian Rights issued a joint statement Monday before the Senate news conference calling on the inclusion of such a policy in any reform pursued this Congress:

“We are fully committed to and deeply understand the need for this nation to adopt a humane and effective comprehensive immigration policy which places a premium value on justice, dignity, respect and opportunity.

Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those striving for and dreaming of a nation that embraces all who come here seeking a better life. We look forward to working with Congress, the White House and every community harmed by our broken immigration system to finally achieve the comprehensive reforms we all so desperately need.”

Huffington Post Article: “I Am Undocuqueer”

I Am Undocuqueer: New Strategies for Alliance Building for the LGBTQ and Immigrant Rights Movements

Jorge Gutierrez


I am queer and undocumented — “undocuqueer.” I began organizing five years ago with the Orange County Dream Team, and I was captivated by that space, hungry to tell my undocumented story. Soon enough I was coming out as undocumented and sharing my story with friends and coworkers and in public spaces, but that process was heavy and painful, because I was leaving my queer story in the back seat. Every time I walked into a meeting, joined a rally or attended an event, I was making a painful negotiation: “Today I am only wearing my ‘undocumented’ hat.” I couldn’t do that to myself, my community or the movement. I needed to come out again, but this time as both queer and undocumented. The pain I felt no longer held me back; instead, I gained empowerment and clarity to better understand my role in the movement and take the initiative to build alliances via my undocuqueer identity.

Undocuqueers have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of the immigrant youth movement. It is no coincidence that after a decade of organizing and mobilizing, undocuqueers have transformed the immigrant youth movement. Alliance building between the LGBTQ and immigrant rights movements has been occurring for years, but this work remains challenging, frequently misguided and often considered unimportant. The immigrant youth movement has come out in support and recognition of our undocuqueer brothers and sisters. We recognize that we cannot continue to give lip service to mainstream LGBTQ and immigrant rights organizations regarding alliance building or leave our LGBTQ undocumented brothers and sisters out of any fight for our communities.

United We Dream (UWD), the largest national immigrant youth organization, has committed itself to ensuring that undocuqueers are represented at every leadership level. In 2011 UWD launched the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) to bring the LGBTQ and immigrant rights communities to the table in an intentional and strategic manner. QUIP seeks to organize and empower undocuqueers, queer immigrant youth and allies via grassroots organizing, educational and advocacy efforts. The past presidential election showed immigrant and LGBTQ communities coming out in huge numbers to vote. What does that mean to both communities? It means that we are in a historical moment that is calling for both movements to come together to share our stories with each other, strategically build alliances and demonstrate that failing to work together is divisive and detrimental for all our communities. Recent polls show that Latinos support marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, and two of the most powerful entities in Latino politics, United We Dream and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, both support LGBTQ inclusion. That said, coming out in support of LGBTQ rights is not enough; immigrant rights organizations need to invest in and implement alliance building work in their everyday organizing and platforms. Those organizations that continue to use the outdated rhetoric that immigrants do not support LGBTQ equality, or that the LGBTQ community does not support immigrant rights, will be left behind and will soon disappear.

UWD’s and CHC’s stances are powerful political positions that need to be adopted by other immigrant rights organizations. Undocuqueers and the LGBTQ community are not an “extra item” that should be considered at the end of the line. We exist and lead lives at the intersections of both identities and movements. We will continue to do the work at the local and national levels to create alliances and demand to be included from beginning to end. We have allowed right-wing conservatives to attack and divide our communities for too long, and we are the only ones who can put an end to that racism, sexism and homophobia. This work must happen now, and undocuqueers have shown us how to do it. We undocuqueers must continue to play a vital role in this alliance building.

This is a call to the immigrant rights community: End the lip service on LGBTQ inclusion and invest your resources, commitment and heart in making sure that our queer brothers and sisters are intentionally represented as we work to ensure that all families in our communities are protected and remain together. We must shake up the powers that be and end the anti-LGBTQ values and sentiments in our immigrant rights movements.

This is a call to the LGBTQ rights community: Reflect and eradicate the racism that is still at the core of many mainstream efforts. We cannot continue to engage in single-issue organizing, because in doing so we will continue to leave out many in our communities. We need to understand that marriage is important, but stopping the deportations of ourselves and our families is just as important.

There is plenty of love and acceptance in our communities, so we must channel all of that into inclusive organizing and action that will ensure and protect the rights of all families and communities.


Coalition to Co-Host Clinic for LGBTQ DREAMers

On Thursday, December 13, the LGBTQ Immigrant Rights Coalition, in conjuntion with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), will host a legal clinic for undocumented LGBTQ immigrants who qualify for the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Those who qualify for DACA are to be granted a temporary reprieve from deportation and issued employment authorization. The clinic will match qualifying immigrants with volunteer pro bono attorneys who will guide applicants through the process, prepare deferred action applications, and provide continuing legal support.

To qualify for deffered action, applicants must show that they:

  • Graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school or have obtained a GED certificate, OR that they are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Gaurd or Armed Forces of the United States,
  • Have never been convicted of a felony, 3 or more misdemeanors, or one significant misdemeanor (including DUI, distribution of controlled substances, domestic violence, and other serious offenses),
  • Were present in the United Stated on June 15, 2012,
  • Entered the United States on or before June 15, 2007,
  • Entered the United States on or before their 16th birthday.

Those interested in participating must register at