I’m posting below in full a vision statement (via ImmigrationProf Blog) on queers and immigration formulated by an organization called Queers for Economic Justice. I support the statement except I’m still agnostic about the guest worker program. It seems to me the principal problem noted below about a guest worker program—that it would create a hierarchy of class-based preferences—is a problem more generally with the American economy. Settling for a guest worker program (sans mandatory HIV testing) may be the best chance there is for achieving comprehensive immigration reform in the near term. I haven’t yet made up my mind about the guest worker program, partly because I don’t know the details of what exactly has been proposed. [My mental model of Kieran Healy’s mental model of Dan Drezner’s mental model says: Do your homework!]
When contemplating the most hated, most marginalized groups of people in
Two of the most divisive issues in the
We recognize that many in our community live as queers and immigrants and we are taking this opportunity, at a historic moment for both groups, to articulate our analysis of the immigration debate. We call for an end to the stigmatization of queer individuals, the recognition of our varied, unique, and flexible kinship networks, the end of the restrictive and dangerous criminalization of migrant and queer communities, and an immigration reform package that puts progressive labor reforms into practice.
The 2006 elections provided mixed results for our communities. Even though anti-LGBTQ ballots were being passed around the country,
We call for an immediate repeal of the HIV ban and bar on travel and immigration. The bar forces several immigrants to hide their HIV status and into criminalization. Moreover, the HIV bar is an unscientific public health measure because it perpetuates the stigma about HIV/AIDS. In many cases, the mandatory immigrant visa-related HIV test at the time of the adjustment of status application is the first diagnosis of HIV for an immigrant who may not be subsequently offered counseling or treatment options. The ban is ostensibly designed to keep the virus out, but it only penalizes HIV positive people, many of whom are already in the country. Moreover, immigrants are often infected in the
Under the current ban, waivers are offered on the basis of qualifying familial relationships. The ban does not offer waivers for non-conjugal relationships/kinship networks/same-sex partnerships and perpetuates the traditional devaluing of non-heteronormative bonds. We call for the reinstating of individual hardship waivers that would allow an individual to self-petition for humanitarian reasons or reasons of public interest-similar to those in place before the 1996 reforms which instituted the familial relationship requirement.
Policing the Border
The proposal for a national wall along the 20,000 mile border between US and
The proposed wall is also detrimental to Native Americans and indigenous peoples. There are 26 federally recognized Native American tribes that live between
The current definition of family in immigration law is limited to parents, spouses, and children. This definition also implies a heterosexual family structure. Unfortunately it is very restrictive because it leaves out most of the family structures in which LGBTQ immigrants live. Partners in same-sex binational couples, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews, and other extended family members are not considered eligible under this narrow definition (if recognition is granted, such as in the case of siblings, the time it takes to obtain a family-based visa is so long that it is equivalent to not having the benefit at all). As a result, the broad universe of non- heteronormative family units created by LGBTQ immigrants is automatically excluded from receiving immigration benefits. Both the LGBTQ and immigrant rights communities need to work towards expanding their narrow definitions of "family" in order to better serve all immigrants, including LGBTQ immigrants.
Applying for asylum based on sexual orientation is the only way for some of the most vulnerable LGBTQ immigrants to legalize their status. Currently, those who apply for asylum based on sexual orientation must do so within a year of entering the country. This disproportionately affects LGBTQ immigrants since many of them are unaware of the asylum provision or are recovering from torture and persecution. Many LGBTQ immigrants are affected by homophobia and transphobia in their day to day lives. This leads to isolation and lack of access to information and resources and delays their applying for asylum based on sexual orientation. We call upon removing the one year deadline for applying for political asylum. Moreover, the category of aggravated felony is being expanded to include offenses such as shoplifting and prostitution; this expansion only applies to immigrants. Individuals charged with aggravated felony are barred from any immigration relief including asylum. This is unjust and only a way of keeping more people from applying for immigration relief.
Harboring is the act of protecting or in any way assisting an undocumented immigrant. Harboring provisions appear in both the House and Senate Bills and target individuals and organizations that provide assistance to undocumented immigrants with financial aid, food, housing, and other basic social services. Currently individuals--friends or partners--who live with undocumented immigrants and immigrants who overstay their visas for any significant length of time are targeted under harboring provisions. US citizen partners of many foreign nationals, who are often denied legal relationships with their partners, could be targeted and prosecuted under harboring provisions and face fines, asset seizure, and imprisonment. We oppose efforts to criminalize those who assist the immigrant community, their families, and loved ones through harboring provisions.
Guest Worker Programs
The guest worker program provisions create a two-tiered system that divides our communities into "better" and "worse" immigrants depending on how long they have been in the country and what kind of work they do. It establishes hierarchies among immigrants based on their income potential and class categories. Under the guest worker program, employers may underpay and/or mistreat low-wage, temporary workers who cannot seek redress for fear of being left without employer sponsors. The program allows work-visa holders in supposedly more prestigious industries to gain citizenship more quickly. Such programs undercut and divide the labor rights movement in the
We demand genuine legalization and opportunities to adjust status for all undocumented immigrants. We believe that the current immigration system is broken and in need of repair. To that end, we demand the following:
· Enact genuinely progressive immigration legislation at the state level that respects the human rights of immigrants. We call for all states to opt out of the Real I.D. Act, reinstate in-state tuition fees for undocumented immigrant students, and not pass legislation that will disallow undocumented immigrants from accessing public benefits. Proposed legislation would allow for greater collaboration between local police and immigration enforcement officials. We are against such collaboration because turning police officers into immigration officials would further jeopardize the already fragmented relationship between police and immigrant communities.
· Repeal the HIV ban immediately.
· End the one year deadline for applying for asylum
· End the heightened policing and criminalization of immigrant communities, including the increased militarization of the border, the construction of any wall around the US-Mexico border, and/or the use of city and state government agencies to enforce federal immigration law.
· End the indefinite and mandatory detention of non-citizens and ensure the safety and self-determination of all people, regardless of national origin, race, gender or sexuality. Detention is particularly harsh for LGBTQ and HIV positive detainees. Rape, harassment, abuse, and denial of HIV treatment/hormone therapy are some of the routine forms of hardship that LGBTQ people face in detention.
· Strengthen labor laws and protections for all workers, native and foreign born, and end guest worker proposals that would continue the exploitation of many low-wage workers.
· End penalties imposed upon service providers and family members of undocumented immigrants.
· Repeal the Real I.D. Act, which creates a national database and makes it more difficult to obtain legal identification, thus causing hardship for thousands of people who cannot obtain identification. In addition, we demand that the Federal government not penalize states that opt out of the Real I.D. Act by, for instance, withdrawing support for educational programs. This Act is particularly hostile to transgender people who can be penalized and deported if birth records do not match current IDs. The national database is also worrisome for transgender workers who may not be open about their transitions at work.
· Eliminate the high-income requirements for immigrant sponsors.
· Eliminate the 3 and 10-year bars for so-called unlawful presence.
· Support efforts to create and affirm the broader definitions of family and kinship patterns in which LGBTQ people already live. Currently, LGBTQ
· Support legalization for all immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. End the criminalization of immigrants by preventing the expansion of deportation criteria and increased penalties for minor offenses.
As LGBTQ people (both immigrants and non-immigrants) we would like to express our disappointment with President George W. Bush. In addition to promoting the Federal Marriage Amendment, he has given in to the radical elements in his party and backed down on his commitment to immigration reform by choosing to focus on enforcement. The LGBTQ community is once again let down by lawmakers who are playing with our lives.
The undersigned are coming out as LGBTQ immigrants and allies in support of genuinely progressive immigration reform. Our natural allies are the LGBTQ and immigrant rights communities and we are eager to work with you towards achieving social justice for all. We will insist that both movements' strategies address the intersection where we live and love and struggle.
List of Endorsing Organizations as of 1/26/2007:
The Audre Lorde Project
Phone: (718) 596-0342
Fax: (718) 596-1328
c/o Yasmin Nair
Phone: (773) 784-3216
Filipinos for Affirmative Action
Immigration Equality, Inc.
Phone: (212) 714-2904
Fax: (212) 714-2973
Love Sees No Borders
Fax: (413) 502-4758
Phone: (415) 392-6257
Fax: (415) 392-8442
Queers for Economic Justice
Phone: (212) 564-3608
Fax: (212) 564-0590
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January 26, 2007
To Whom it May Concern,
We are contacting you from the Immigrant Rights Project at Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). QEJ is an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming (LGBTQ) people committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation.
We recognize there is a marked lack of LGBTQ voices in the current immigration debate. Congress and the nation are presently looking toward measures of immigration reform and we recognize that several agencies are working organizationally to influence the outcome of these reforms.
We are taking this opportunity to insert LGBTQ perspectives into the national debate over immigration. LGBTQ immigrants face their own specific concerns and obstacles within the immigration process for a number of complex legal and social reasons. Attached you will find a queer and transgender vision statement on immigration outlining some of these concerns, as well as certain demands for reform which we believe to be inclusive and fair for all immigrants to the United States.
We invite your organization to sign on to this vision statement and join us as allies in our struggle. Please respond with your support for the vision statement no later than February 8, 2007.
Immigration Policy Analyst
Queers for Economic Justice
Phone: (212) 564-3608
Fax: (212) 564-0590