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    March 26, 2009

    UAFA: new tactic

    Posted by: Andoni


    In addition to the old plan of asking everyone to call or write their Senators and Representative to co-sponsor the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, S. 424 or H.R. 1024), Immigration Equality is adding a second tactic -- asking everyone to spread the message that UAFA has to be part of any comprehensive immigration reform bill.

    Fact: it is quite likely that there will be a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year. As a result we are now on a two track strategy, lobbying for UAFA as a freestanding bill and UAFA as part of comprehensive reform. To not try to be part of the comprehensive bill would be foolish because if it passes it is quite likely that Congress will not want to deal with any immigration issue again for many years. They will say immigration is now fixed, regardless of the facts.

    In a good sign, the White House says it supports family unification for bi-national gay couples. According to a Bay Windows article:

    Asked about Obama’s stance on UAFA [the Uniting American Families Act] and the likelihood of its inclusion in comprehensive immigration legislation, White House spokesman Shin Inouye said in a statement that: “The president thinks Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country. We will work closely with Congress to craft comprehensive immigration reform legislation.”

    This is a huge step. Now we have to make sure that Congress agrees with this. So continue those letters and calls. In my many years of lobbying, I have found that a hand written letter gets the most attention in Congress. If you need help in crafting a message here is suggestion from Immigration Equality. They have a tool so you can email your member in less than 30 seconds. Then you can get family and friends in the act by sharing their email addresses.

    But remember, if you have 5 minutes, a handwritten letter works wonders.

    Finally, here is a list of Representatives that normally support LGBT issues but have not co-sponsored UAFA yet. If you live in their district, they should be ripe for co-sponsoring, so contact them.

    Rob Andrews (D-NJ)
    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
    Robert Brady (D-PA)
    Kathy Castor (D-FL)
    Charles Gonzalez (D-TX)
    Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)
    Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH)
    Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
    Jim McDermott (D-WA)
    Patrick Murphy (D-PA)
    Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
    Joe Sestak (D-PA)
    Edolphus Towns (D-NY)

    And here is a list of Senators that should be co-sponsoring, but to date have not. If any one of these is your Senator, contact them:

    Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    Richard Durban (D-IL)
    Herbert Kohl (D-WI)
    Edward Kaufman (D-DE)
    Arlen Specter (R-PA)



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    1. Scott on Mar 28, 2009 10:15:21 AM:

      I sent an e-mail to my senator (Durbin). I was lucky that my husband immigrated with his parents when he was just a child. He became a citizen a few years into our relationship. I can imagine the difficulty and pain were this not the case.

    1. Sam on Mar 28, 2009 11:58:59 AM:

      I emailed both of my Senators from Red State Georgia. Never heard from one but the other said it was a state issue and referred me to our Gpvernor. I had clearly indicated that immigration law was federal and not a state issue. I called the office of the Senator and the aide answering the phone said, "I'm sure it was an error." Knowing the track record of Sen. Chambliss, I doubt it was an error...more like a brush off.
      Attaching UAFA to comprehensive immigration reform seems like the way to go and I applaud this effort.

    1. Chuck on Mar 29, 2009 2:39:59 PM:

      Andoni, we have not seen a post from Chris in a very long time.

      Is everything okay with him?

      A concerned fellow bi-national blogger.

    1. Dennis on Apr 1, 2009 12:15:50 AM:

      Thank you for the information. my partner and I are one of the bi-national gay couples, who has been waiting for many many years. I did my best to contact the representative and senator in my area to co-cosponsor UAFA, so glad to hear the letter from Barbar Boxer who said she supports the bill, but hear nothing from Dianne Feinstein, and I know the congressman in my area - George Radanovich, he is a Republician, and he will never support that bill.

    1. Anthon on Aug 19, 2009 2:46:12 AM:

      I am a South African citizen who is legally married to an American citizen. I am deeply shocked and saddened that the United States of America has laws in place that allow for discrimination against our life time commitment and the vows that we have spoken to each other.
      My long time partner, Joseph, and I were recently married in an amazing ceremony in Cape Town, South Africa. In my country this is a legal and binding commitment. We are law abiding citizens and successful business men, conscious and respectful of the environment, the people and our communities in both our home countries.
      One week ago I was subject to discrimination and humiliation that I have never before experienced in my life at the hands of US government. On a trip back from South Africa, I was interrogated at immigration in Atlanta, GA. I was detained, stripped of my current VISA, and routed back to South Africa that same day. I was held in a room for twelve hours under guard until I was put back on the flight. During that time, my husband was not allowed to visit me and our communication was limited through cell phone use. This was and is one of the worst times in both of our lives. The reason I was told that I was being sent back to South Africa was because I had the incorrect VISA. You see, Joseph and I own a business together in Atlanta, GA. as well as in Cape Town, SA. Joseph oversees the business in the US and I oversee the business in SA. The truth is of course we do consult each other on business matters and help where needed. When I informed them that I was here to be with my husband, I was told that my VISA was inadequate because we have the business. I was shocked at hearing this. It is unbelievable to me that in “the land of the free” and “justice for all” my partner and I were stripped of our human rights because of our love and commitment. How is it possible for this country with so many incredible attributes to still have laws that discriminate? I would think that as a so called leader in the free world, the US would be a leader in all respects.
      At this time, Joseph and I are forced to live apart, as I am not welcome in your country. I am working to try and get a new VISA that will cover me for business in the US. however it is still beyond me why I cannot even come and be with my husband. In South African law, there is no difference between a heterosexual married couple and homosexual married couple. We are offered 100% of all the rights of South Africa legally. Here we can live freely in a truly democratic society. We know other US/South African couples who happen to be heterosexual who’s marriages are recognized by the US. How then can the United States, honor the commitment and contract of marriage between a man and a woman from a foreign nation and not honor the exact same commitment and contract of marriage between a man and a man? If we were a heterosexual couple, there would be no issue. AND THAT IS PRECISELY THE ISSUE!

      As our lives are now, we continue to take it day by day in hopes that justice will prevail and we will soon be side by side as it should be for all those who love and are committed to each other.

      Anthon Muller

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