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How will immigration reform affect LGBT immigrants?

As the nation moves ever closer to immigration reform, advocates are now urging politicians to carefully consider the language of the new bills; especially when it comes to LGBT families who may find that they are not included in many of the sweeping reforms.  

Because the federal government does not recognize gay marriage at this time, many LGBT immigrants are not allowed to receive sponsorship from their U.S. citizen spouses.  It's because of this fact that many gay couples across the nation, including some here in Florida, fear the deportation of their family members.  Some advocates hope legislation will be able to change that and more in the upcoming months.

According to a 2000 census conducted by the Williams Institute, an estimated 2,902 bi-national, same-sex couples resided in the state of Florida. Over the course of 13 years, that number has likely risen which leaves thousands of families who could be at risk of deportation if legislation does not contain language that can protect these immigrants. The hope is that additional language can be added that will allow U.S. citizens to sponsor their same-sex partner, much like what is allowed under the current immigration system for heterosexual couples.

Critics point out that this may not be as simple as many people think. As we said earlier, the federal government does not recognize gay marriage. It's because of this conflict between immigration law and family law that could be another hold up on reform. Adding to the frustration, as we've mentioned in past posts, is how employment law will also be affected by immigration reform as well.

Regardless of where our readers stand on this hot-button topic, both sides can agree that there is a real tie up in family immigration as a result of conflicting laws. It will definitely be something that politicians will have to consider deeply before passing any sweeping reforms down the road.

Source: The Huffington post, "LGBT Families Must Be Included in Immigration Reform," Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, May 21, 2013

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