June 8, 2009
On 3 June 2009, the US Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). UAFA would amend US immigration law to permit American citizens and Legal Permanent Residents to sponsor their same-sex partners as traditionally-married Americans can. J Craig Fong, partner in the Los Angeles immigration law firm of Fong & Aquino, has been an advocate for gay men and lesbians for over 20 years, advising and representing same-sex couples and other non-traditional families.
In one form or another, UAFA has been introduced in Congress each year since 2000. If passed, UAFA would make available to same-sex partners the same immigration status enjoyed by spouses of US citizens and residents.
Advocates have urged the Congress to pass UAFA, as a stand-alone bill or as part of a larger, Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) package. The Obama administration has indicated its willingness to now address immigration issues, and many believe that now may be the time. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has also indicated its support for UAFA.
To help move UAFA through the Congress, please have your friends, family, pastors, ministers, rabbis from all states write to both US Senators and Representative. Mailing addresses for Members of Congress can be found here. It would also be helpful to encourage the mayor and city council of your town, your state legislator, and even your state's governor to write a letter or pass a resolution in support of UAFA -- and to send that letter or resolution to the Congress.
Some people have asked whether letters should be written to progressive Senators and Congresspersons too. To that, I answer yes! Remember, immigration and same-sex relationships are both hot potatoes. Put them together, and even the most progressive Senator or Congressperson will need to have political support on this issue. --jcf