26 November 2014

On Immigration, Obama Helps Everyone But Us

We've all heard that "politics make strange bedfellows."

Well, even with that in mind, it's really strange to see the TEA party and LGBT people upset with President Obama over the same issue: specifically, the immigration plan he announced last week.

Of course, our objections are not the same as those of Mitch McConnell and his acolytes.  They think Obama said "Let 'em all in!" In contrast, some of us--or those we love--could be kept from entering or returning to the US, or from living without fear of losing our jobs, places of residence and the communities we've joined or made for ourselves.

One part of Obama's plan calls for granting short-term deferred action and working rights to parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents who have been in this country for at least five years.  While that is laudable, it also fails to take into account that undocumented LGBT immigrants are far less likely, due to marriage and adoption laws, to have children who are US citizens.  Moreover, many LGBT people have close, and even critical, relationships with nieces, nephews and other extended family members who are not considered in the plan.

In other words, this part of the plan devalues LGBT family relationships, whether or not that is Obama's intention.

Another part of the plan that doesn't take such relationships into consideration is the one calling for provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include the spouses, sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents and the sons and daughters of US citizens.

Aside from its failure to consider LGBT family relationships, the plan also doesn't acknowledge that some LGBT asylum-seekers are fleeing persecution, violence and even the threat of death in their native countries.  It also doesn't take into account that LGBT immigrants are fifteen times as likely as other immigrants to be sexually assaulted in detention centers.

Many LGBT people heard Obama's promise to champion our causes and voted for him.  At times, he has lived up to that pledge.  But this time, he's dropped the ball--and I'm not talking about the one on the court.

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