AirTalk for May 1, 2013

How will same-sex partners factor into new immigration reform?

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NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Edwin, a 46-year-old naturalized US citizen from El Salvador, and Rodrigo Martinez, 34, an illegal resident from El Salvador, who have been together for ten years and got married in Washington, DC, in 2011 but for the Federal government, which does not recognize marriage between same-sex couples, they may as well just be housemates. Rodrigo is counting on US President Barack Obama's push for immigration reform to finally be able to become a legal resident.

LGBT activists are diving into the immigration reform debate, arguing that the most recent bills proposed by the Gang of Eight unfairly exclude same-sex couples. The bill, introduced to the Senate in April by a group of bipartisan lawmakers, includes provisions to ease legal immigration for highly skilled workers, migrant farmworkers, and family members of U.S. citizens. It does not include measures to accommodate same-sex partners of American citizens.

Since 1996, a law defining marriage as between a man and woman has prevented same-sex married couples from applying for green cards for a foreign spouse – the immigration code does not recognize same-sex partners. Democrats in the Gang of Eight have been conflicted about whether to amend the new immigration bill to make provisions for same-sex couples – Republicans in the Senate who have expressed support for the current bill say that such measures would be a deal breaker.

How should the senate deal with LGBT rights as they relate to immigration reform? Is it worth trying to pass the immigration reform bill with an amendment to include same-sex partners even though it is more likely to fail?

Guests:
Carrie Budoff  Browna reporter at POLITICO

Ty Cobb, senior legislative counsel at Human Rights Campaign

Luis Alvarado, political strategist for Revolvis and former deputy press secretary for the California Republican Party


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