Immigration Equality regularly engages in advocacy to reform the law on behalf of LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants and their families. A sample of this work is below.
Congressional Hearing Testimony
Following introduction of S. 744, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on April 22 and April 23, 2013 on the 844 page bill. Immigration Equality, along with 18 allies, submitted testimony applauding the Senate for introducing the bill, but highlighting that no immigration reform is comprehensive if it excludes our families.
On March 20, 2013, Immigration Equality submitted testimony for the Senate hearing on “Building an Immigration System Worthy of American Values.” In addition to calling for immigration reform which includes UAFA, this testimony urges Congress to pass immigration reform which restores due process rights, and reduces detention.
On March 18, 2013, Immigration Equality submitted testimony for the Senate hearing on “How Comprehensive Immigration Reform Should Address the Needs of Women and Families.” The testimony highlighted the stories of lesbian families struggling to remain together and have children in the United States when the current immigration system does not recognize their primary relationship.
On March 14, 2013, Immigration Equality submitted testimony to the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security for the hearing entitled, “The Separation of Nuclear Families under U.S. Immigration Law.” The testimony urged immigration reform that will prevent LGBT families from being separated.
On February 13, 2013, Immigration Equality submitted testimony for the Senate hearing on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The testimony urges CIR to include LGBT families. It also asks Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, to include the DREAM Act, to remove the one year filing deadline in asylum, and to reform immigration detention.
On February 5, 2013, Immigration Equality submitted testimony to the House of Representatives in support of LGBT inclusive immigration reform on its hearing entitled “America’s Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws against Illegal Immigration.”
On July 22, 2011, Immigration Equality submitted testimony to the Senate urging the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, which seeks to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
On April 17, 2012, Immigration Equality submitted testimony to the Senate calling for the end of Racial Profiling.
On June 3, 2009, Immigration Equality submitted extensive written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee when it held its first ever hearing on the Uniting American Families Act.
Comments on Regulations
On March 22, 2013, Immigration Equality submitted comments to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in response to a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking. In our comments, Immigration Equality urged the FCC to regulate the telephone systems used at detention facilities. Most immigration detainees can only communicate with the outside world via collect calls and the unregulated rates on these calls are often more than $5 per minute. This unfair system which makes a profit off of some of the most vulnerable people in our community makes it much more difficult for LGBT asylum seekers to prove their cases.
On February 26, 2013, working closely with colleagues at allied organizations, Immigration Equality submitted comments on the proposed regulations the Department of Homeland Security issued to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act. While the proposed regulations do provide some needed protections for LGBT immigration detainees, the comments point to ongoing areas of concern, especially with enforcement of the regulations.
On May 29, 2012, Immigration Equality submitted comments on a proposed rule by Customs and Border Protection which will amend regulations to permit LGBT families who reside together to submit a single customs form rather than file separate forms. One criticism we have of the proposed rule is that binational couples may mistakenly fill out one form when they should fill out two and this could lead to a finding of “immigrant intent” against the foreign partner.
USCIS has proposed changes to how it processes waivers to grounds of inadmissiblity, including entry without inspection. The proposed rule change would allow those eligible for the waiver to apply for the waiver from within the U.S. instead of going abroad to do so. Immigration Equality submitted comments commending the rule change. While this rule change would have little immediate effect on LGBT families, we believe the rule change is good and will help LGBT families in the future when our relationships are given full legal weight.
After more than two years of advocacy by Immigration Equality and the National Center for Transgender Equality, USCIS issued interim guidance in the spring of 2012 amending the Adjudicators Field Manual to make it easier for transgender individuals to amend the gender marker on their identity documents and clarifying the USCIS rules on adjudicating marriage-based petitions for couples where one or both spouses are transgender. In April 2012, ImEq and NCTE submitted comments in favor the rule change.