Human Rights Campaign Lauds Introduction of Reuniting Families Act

by HRC Staff

Legislation would end discrimination against same-sex couples in immigration law and allow Americans to sponsor their partners.

Washington - The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, today lauded the introduction of the Reuniting Families Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, sponsored by Representative Michael Honda (D-CA), includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a provision that would allow U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents in same-sex relationships to sponsor their partners for immigration purposes.

HRC worked closely with Representative Honda's office to ensure our families were included in the Act. Under current immigration law, U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents may sponsor their spouses for immigration purposes. But Americans in same-sex relationships are not afforded this basic right. Consequently, many bi-national same-sex couples are kept or torn apart.

The Reuniting Families Act would allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration in the same manner as different-sex spouses. As with current immigration laws for married couples, the bill would impose harsh penalties for fraud, including up to five years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines.

"This bill is a necessary update to our discriminatory immigration system and will help thousands of American families," said HRC Chief Diversity Officer Cuc Vu. "Our nation's laws must ensure that families, in all their diverse forms, are able to stay together. The Reuniting Families Act is a common-sense measure that allows families to sponsor their loved ones for immigration purposes. Family reunification is a primary goal of our immigration system and our laws must effectively accomplish this objective."

"I know from my personal experience the importance of comprehensive family reunification laws. When my family and I fled Vietnam on the day Saigon collapsed in 1975, one of my sisters was separated from us. We used the family reunification laws to bring my sister to the United States. It took my mother eight long years to bring my sister over and another three years to bring over her family. Though it took so long, we consider ourselves lucky. Tragically, because U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents cannot sponsor their same-sex partners for immigration, lesbian and gay families have no options. As a result, they face the very real threat of permanent separation from their loved ones," said Vu.

According to the most recent U.S. Census, nearly 36,000 lesbian and gay Americans are in bi-national couples. Their median age is 38, and 47% of bi-national couples are raising children. The Reuniting Families Act would end immigration discrimination against same-sex couples and streamline the immigration process for other families.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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