Being counted: same-sex immigrant and binational couples 11/27-12/4

6 Dec

.         LGBT immigrants often go unnoticed in immigration debates, just as immigrants often go unnoticed in the LGBT rights movement. Yet, out of an estimated 650,000 same sex couples in the US, 12% include at least one immigrant partner.  A new study from UCLA provides data that demonstrate the demographic trends and diversity among these couples and, implicitly, provides a glimpse into the complex realities for these couples.
.         About 39,000 of these partnerships include immigrants who have been able to attain full citizenship through naturalization. This group is almost half White, only about 23% are raising children, 75% are home owners and most are high income.  About 28,574 couples are binational, including some immigrants with permanent residence and some without.  Compared to the same sex couples where both partners have citizenship, this group is almost half Latino and only a third White, about a third are raising children, almost two thirds own a home and are mid- to low-income. Another 11,442 couples are dual-non-citizen, with a permanent resident and non-permanent resident or both.  This group is 76% Latino, over half are raising children, only 30% own a home and they are low income.
.         Like other immigrants, gay and lesbian immigrants contend with the challenges and barriers erected by xenophobia. Immigrants of color also face racial profiling, stereotypes that criminalize them for their skin color and other effects of racism.  These forms of discrimination are compounded by homophobia in the US and in their home countries.  US immigration law prevents citizens and permanent residents from petitioning for their same-sex partner.  For dual-non-citizen partnerships where neither partner has permanent residency, this is not even a potential path to citizenship.  Over half of immigrants in same sex couples come from countries with no same-sex partner protections in their immigration law.  Homophobic immigration laws can tear couples apart.
.         One potential solution is for Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act of 2011, which would allow individuals to petition for their same-sex partners.  While this would fall short of providing a path of citizenship to all same-sex immigrant couples, it would be a just correction to a discriminatory law.  In the long-term, LGBT and immigrant rights groups should continue to collaborate.  Individuals’ nationality and sexual orientation are critical aspects of their identity.  No one should be discriminated against for either.

In other news:
The Washington Narrative on Migration, NACLA Blog, 11/24/11
Todd Miller discusses the disconnect in among US policy makers between free trade agreements and migration patterns.  While Congress continues to debate increased border militarization, Miller points out the importance of promoting trade policies that do not destroy the economic livelihood of Central and South Americans.

Could conservatives love Gingrich’s immigration plan?, CNN Opinion Piece, 11/29/11
Conservative pundit William J. Bennett argues why conservatives should consider current-front-runner Newt Gingrich’s immigration plan.  This commentary provides insights into how conservatives may shape their views on immigration as the Republican primary continues.  It also outlines many pieces of this plan, which includes making English our official language, developing guest worker programs, and an opportunity for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US more than 20-25 years, who go to church and who have never committed a crime to receive a “red card”, but no citizenship, and only after being approved by a citizen panel.

Immigration, deportations on Occupy L.A.’s list of grievances , Multiamerican, 11/29/11
Occupy L.A. and others other Occupy cities around the country have made immigrant rights a central part of their values, demands and actions.  Occupy LA has called for the end of police-ICE relations; San Francisco held an immigrants’ rights march; and San Diego has started an Occupy ICE group.

Immigrant teen’s death touches off a charged debate, Los Angeles Times, 12/04/11
Joaquin Luna, an 18-year old in Texas, committed suicide the night after Thanksgiving.  His final notes to his family indicate that, as an undocumented person, he had lost hope in his opportunities to pursue his dreams, saying he felt trapped by his lack of opportunities.  His passing is a tragic reminder of the challenge that undocumented individuals face in confronting the restrictions our nation’s immigration system places on them.

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