Human rights groups to investigate gay immigration to USA

July 10, 2006
Via pinknews.co.uk

Amid
widespread national coverage of protests over United States immigration
policy, two human rights organizations are turning a spotlight on the
plight of bi-national gay and lesbian couples who are treated as “legal
strangers” by US immigration.

Last May, Human Rights Watch and
Immigration Equality released the report “Family, Unvalued:
Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Bi-national Same-Sex Couples
Under United States Law,” based on research conducted between 2003 and
2006.

“Our immigration laws are undermining the traditional
American values of fairness and family,” said Rachel Tiven, executive
director of Immigration Equality in a media statement. “United States
immigration policy is designed to keep families together. But the
current law targets an entire class of American families and tears them
apart.”

The report notes that any LGBT partnership in which one
of the partners is a foreign national is denied the opportunity to
obtain the lawful permanent resident status that could be granted if he
or she were heterosexual. These same-sex couples often live with the
fear that at least one of the partners and/or their children could be
deported.

The report offers detailed explanations of the effects
that current immigration laws have on many bi-national same-sex couples
in the United States, including:

“The fact that many families
have been separated, such as in cases where one parent and the couple’s
children are forced to live on different continents.”

“The
federal government’s discriminatory anti-gay marriage law takes a
severe financial and emotional toll on bi-national LGBT families. If
the foreign national member of an LGBT couple is unable to legally
obtain citizenship status, that person has to endure the stress of
maintaining work visas or student visas in order to stay in the
country. Also, many families living on separate continents incur severe
debt due to the cost of travel and legal fees.”

“HIV-positive
foreign nationals are denied entrance into the US without a special
waiver. This includes HIV-positive LGBT people. The United States ban
on HIV-positive foreign nationals prevents LGBT people who find out
they are HIV-positive once living in the United States from
successfully applying for permanent residency. Human Rights Watch notes
that the Hagel-Martinez immigration compromise proposal would extend
this ban.”

Scott Long, co-author of the report said:
“Discriminatory United States immigration laws turn the American dream
into a heartless nightmare for countless United States citizens and
their foreign partners. As Congress debates immigration reforms, it
should end discrimination against lesbian and gay immigrants as well as
their United States partners.”

Gay and Lesbians Alliance Against
Defamation (GLAAD) also commented on the report in a media statement
issued this week. “As immigration reform becomes a focal point in our
national debate, it’s vital for the media to share stories of those
impacted by discriminatory immigration laws that threaten the safety
and stability of bi-national LGBT families,” said their spokesperson
Mónica Taher.

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