Immigration equality is a term which refers to the equal treatment of any or all citizens' ability or right to immigrate their family members. It also applies to fair and equal execution of the laws and the rights of non-citizens regardless of nationality or where they are coming from. Immigration issues can also be a lesbian and gay rights issue, as government recognition of same-sex relationships vary from country to country.
- 1 Immigration and migrant rights issue
- 2 LGBT immigration issues
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Immigration and migrant rights issue
In 1999, President Clinton sent a bill to Congress that would have equalized immigration rights for people from Central America and Haiti. Clinton said the bill would correct the imbalance in immigration laws that gave advantage to people who fled communist regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua. Like Nicaraguans and Cubans, many Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and Haitians fled human rights abuses or unstable political economic conditions in the 1980s and 1990s, but the later received unequal treatment that granted to the Nicaraguans and Cubans. The "Central American and Haitian Parity Act of 1999" never passed, but would have offered immigration equality protections to migrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Haitians particularly sought immigration equality in the Elián González affair in 2000 when they organized demonstrations in Miami during an international tug of war between Cuba and the US. They protested what they said was discrimination against Haitian immigrants by the INS and the behavior of elected officials who lobbied for Elián González to stay in the US, yet ignored the plight Haitian refugees and the repatriation of Haitian children.
In 2004, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, expressed concern about the plight of the Haitian people as the country was sliding further into chaos. Cuba, Jamaica and Canada said they will not send people back to Haiti, but President George W Bush warned Haitians they will be sent home if they try to flee to the US. In a matter of a few days, the US Coast Guard intercepted some 500 people in boats fleeing Haiti and sent them back. But the US does not send back Cubans fleeing similar situations and regimes and many argue that immigration equality rights between the two nationalities should apply.
In 2006, protests continued for immigration equality rights for the Haitians as Lawyers protest Deportation of Illegal Immigrants to Haiti.
LGBT immigration issues
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Main article: Same-sex immigration policy in the United States
Until 2013, gay and lesbian Americans were not afforded the same rights and responsibilities under current immigration law as their heterosexual counterparts. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had forbidden the federal government from conferring any benefits upon same-sex couples. Under DOMA, persons in same-sex marriages were not considered married for immigration purposes. U.S. citizens and permanent residents in same-sex marriages could not petition for their spouses, nor could they be accompanied by their spouses into the U.S. on the basis of a family or employment-based visa. A non-citizen in such a marriage would not have been able to use it as the basis for obtaining a waiver or relief from removal from the U.S. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Following this decision, the administration of President Barack Obama began recognizing same-sex couples for immigration purposes.
Since 2003, fear of persecution has been increasingly accepted as grounds for granting asylum to LGBT persons. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied an application for asylum on the part of an gay Indonesian. It doubted his fear of persecution if he returned to Indonesia in part because "closeted homosexuality is tolerated in Indonesia". The case, Kadri v. Mukasey, is on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
At present a number of countries recognise same-sex relationships for immigration purposes. This may occur through the recognition of same-sex marriage, through some other form of registered relationship, or through specific provisions made in immigration law. These countries are:
United States LGBT immigration organizations
There are several organizations in the United States that deal with LGBT/HIV+ immigration issues and represent LGBT/HIV+ persons in legal immigration to the U.S.
Immigration Equality, Inc. (United States)
Main article: Immigration Equality (organization)
Immigration Equality is a national organization fighting for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV-positive individuals. Founded in 1994 as the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, it has grown to a membership of 10,000 people in cities all over the country.
Immigration Equality also maintains a list of LGBT/HIV-friendly private immigration attorneys to provide legal representation for those who contact them. They also provide technical assistance to attorneys who are working on sexual orientation, transgender identity, or HIV status-based asylum applications, or other immigration applications where the client’s LGBT or HIV-positive identity is at issue in the case.
Out4Immigration (United States)
Out4Immigration is a volunteer grassroots organization that addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of U.S. immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network.
They maintain a blog "LGBT Immigration Rights" at Change.org as well as a letter writing campaign urging 5 representatives each week to support the Uniting American Families Act and to support an Inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform that includes LGBT Families.
They also worked with National Center for Lesbian Rights' Immigration Project to provide a monthly free legal clinic where participants get to consult with an immigration attorney to discuss their cases.
National Center For Lesbian Rights (United States)
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, founded in 1977, is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
What We Do: NCLR is a non-profit, public interest law firm which litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBT people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBT legal issues.
Who We Serve: More than 5,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families in all fifty states each year, including LGBT seniors, immigrants, athletes, and youth. And our impact litigation serves all LGBT people in the United States.
Love Exiles (The Netherlands)