The president and Senate “gang of eight” introduced their proposals for comprehensive immigration reform this week. Both agree on key principles revolving around enforcement, employment, a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, and solutions for problems plaguing the system. Several differences remain, however, as shown in the table below.
Surprisingly, a key sticking point is no longer the fate of the estimated 11 million plus undocumented immigrants, but that of lesbian and gay binational couples and their families, who number less than 30,000. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not able to sponsor their same-gender foreign-born partners and spouses, unlike their heterosexual counterparts. Conservatives in Congress warn against including an LGBT-inclusive provision in any comprehensive immigration legislation.
While the administration and GOP leadership appear committed to passing a bill this year, there are no guarantees about what form it will take.