A few months ago there was a lot of hand-wringing among LGBT progressive activists over the possibility that comprehensive immigration reform might not include same-sex partner sponsorship. If it benefits LGBT immigrants but doesn't include same-sex partner sponsorship, do we support it? What a conundrum!
Well, looks like the opposite is happening. The Democrats released their framework for immigration reform last week, and it includes binational, same-sex families:
Included in the "framework" are key provisions of the Uniting American Families Act. The legislation was previously offered as a standalone bill by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont in the Senate and Representative Jerrold Nadler in the House.
The measure would allow gay Americans to sponsor an immigrant partner for citizenship.
But it isn't all that progressive when it comes to reform for undocumented workers:
The Democrats' legislative "framework" includes a slew of new immigration enforcement measures aimed at U.S. borders and workplaces. It would further expand the 20,000-member Border Patrol; triple fines against U.S. employers that hire illegal immigrants; and, most controversially, require all American workers -- citizens and non-citizens alike -- to get new Social Security cards linked to their fingerprints to ease work eligibility checks.
The plan's emphasis on "securing the border first" before taking steps to allow many of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States to pay fines and apply for legal status was plainly a gesture to Republicans. Even so, no Republican is supporting it, not even Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has been working with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in bipartisan talks over the issue for months.
The Democrats' shift underscores how, in the struggle between enforcement advocates and legalization backers, the former seem to be gaining, experts said.
Ideas that were hotly contested in ill-fated Senate debates in 2006 and 2007 seem now to be taken for granted, said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "You've seen a lot of movement, and in partisan terms mostly movement on the Democratic side toward Republican positions," he said.
Now, a framework is a long ways away from a final bill actually passing, something that might not even happen this year. Sure, our immigration system is completely broken, no matter who you ask, but it's not going to get fixed as long as our politicians are beholden to the conflicting interests of business's need for cheap labor and nativism/racism (I'm guessing actual concern for the actual immigrants' lives is lower on the list of priorities).
But if major legislation from 2009 is any indication, the only way Congress is going to move on this proposal is further to the right. Same-sex partner sponsorship could get cut. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it did. The measures could get more punitive towards undocumented workers. More money could be added for Border Patrol. Considering that Arizona just dropped the gauntlet on immigration, as well as the fact that Democrats seem to think that they can somehow get the racist Tea Baggers to vote for the party of San Francisco values and the Kenyan usurper, I have little hope that this bill will actually, say, treat everyone like a human who deserves a chance of living in the country they want to live.
Congressional Democrats also showed that they care (for some reason) what the Catholic Bishops think more than everyone else back during the health care reform debate, and the same group is revving up against same-sex partner sponsorship in this bill:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a major ally in securing immigration reform, called inclusion of the gay provisions "contrary" to its position on marriage.
"[Including the gay provisions in the immigration bill] would erode the institution of marriage and family by according marriage like benefits to same-sex relationships, a position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage, which pre-dates the church and the state," the bishops wrote in a letter to Rep. Honda withdrawing their support for his bill.
This is all part of the Democrats' mad negotiation skillz. First, they give Republicans everything they want, hoping against hope that they'll vote for the bill. Then Republicans say they won't because they want more, and they blame the Democrats for not being bipartisan and accepting their ideas. The bill either then dies or gets watered down and passed along a party-line vote, and Republicans blame everything that doesn't work in the bill (as well as plenty of things that aren't even in the bill) on Democrats. People who are actually affected by the bill get screwed, but it's not like they're actually going to vote for Republicans, eh?