The “gang of eight” senators introduced their immigration reform bill yesterday. We applaud their efforts and we are optimistic that 2013 is the year we will address the needs of the more than 11 million undocumented, of whom more than 260,000 are LGBT and more than 20,000 are transgender.
Recently, NCTE joined more than 30 transgender organizations in setting forth a set of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. The initial bill that was just introduced includes some of those principles, but has important gaps and some problematic provisions. The bill includes many provisions that would benefit vulnerable trans immigrants and their families, including a much-needed pathway to citizenship, albeit a long and arduous one, a swift pathway for “DREAMers” who came to the US at a young age and have finished high school, and lifting the harsh one-year filing deadline for asylum-seekers.
The new bill also has significant gaps. As the legislation moves forward in the Senate, we must press to ensure that the final bill:
- Includes all families, including LGBT families, in the family visa system.
- Makes the pathway to citizenship realistic and accessible to transgender immigrants.
- Ensures that a new proposed employment verification system doesn’t violate the privacy of trans workers (such as by using unnecessary gender markers).
- Shrinks the wasteful and inhumane immigration detention system and sharply limits solitary confinement.
Read our full analysis of what the immigration reform proposal means for LGBT people below.
This bill represents a huge step forward, but it is just the beginning of the process, and we know we can do better. LGBT advocates will need to press for a number of key changes as the bill moves forward to committee, including ensuring a reasonable and inclusive path to citizenship, including all our families, rolling back the harsh detention and deportation system, and reducing proposed increases in wasteful spending in enforcement.
NCTE will be keeping you up to date as this bill moves forward. Now is the time for inclusive reform.