LGBT demonstrators were among the tens of thousands of immigrant reform activists who rallied outside the U.S. Capitol and in 30 cities around the nation Wednesday as a group of eight senators reached tentative agreement on a broad immigration bill. The New York Times reports that the bill "would require tough border measures to be in place before illegal immigrants could take the first steps to become American citizens, according to several people familiar with drafts of the legislation." The bill would allow Homeland Security 10 years "to make plans and use resources to fortify enforcement at the borders and elsewhere within the country before it sets several broader hurdles that could derail the immigrants' progress toward citizenship if they are not achieved."
(National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey speaking at comprehensive immigration reform rally in Washington DC on Wednesday. Photo courtesy NGLTF)
KNBC Channel 4 reports that activists, some holding signs for "Equality," demonstrated at rallies in the Los Angeles area calling for immigration reform and family unification for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants. They also pressed Sen. Dianne Feinstein for an agreement over workers wages and visas to bring agricultural workers to the US under a new program.
"There's a tentative agreement on a number of things, and we're waiting to see if it can get wrapped up," Feinstein said told the AP. "I'm very hopeful. The train is leaving the station. We need a bill."
Immigration is an up close and personal issue for many LGBT people in Southern California. For instance, LGBT Angelinos are keenly aware that Dolores Huerta and her United Farm Workers have long been a solid LGBT ally, including strongly opposing Prop 8 and serving on the board of Equality California. Additionally, LGBT Latino organizations such as the Latino Equality Alliance, Bienestar and The Wall Las Memorias, to name just three organizations, work on healthcare rights for LGBT immigrants who seek safety to come out and/or are HIV positive and come to the US seeking medical services without drawing homophobic attention that could get them beaten up, murdered or disappeared. The US doesn't recognize asylum requests when the mortal danger is from family or neighbors. That's one reason why a comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress - whether initially or through amendments - must include LGBT protections.
Video after the break.