Moving Beyond Marriage Equality

A couple of days ago, my husband and I were interviewed by an immigration adjudicator. The gentleman deemed our relationship legit, approved us on the spot, and told us to expect a green card in the mail. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling upending Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), he treated our marriage just like any other. My spouse and I are very fortunate.

Not all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants are as fortunate, however. The Williams Institute estimates that about 7,000 gay couples are both non-citizens, and that approximately 267,000 undocumented immigrants identify as LGBT. These individuals do not benefit from the Supreme Court’s ruling, but they will benefit from comprehensive immigration reform. A path to legalization will free them from the shadows to become more productive, engaged, and committed members of our society.

On Thursday, the president once again called for passage of immigration reform. He rightfully argues that fixing our immigration system is good for our economy and our national security, and, ultimately, for all of us.

“It doesn’t make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead,” President Obama said. “It’s not smart. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense.”

As we celebrate breathtaking progress on the marriage equality front, we need to be mindful that other pressing issues beset our community. We can be fired in 29 states for being ourselves. Our transgender sisters and brothers are not welcome in the military. We suffer poverty more than straight people, especially those of us who are of color. And too many in our community are further marginalized by their immigration status. Just as we rallied behind the freedom to marry, let us rally behind the freedom to live, love, and work in this country of immigrants.

Originally posted on the Huffington Post.

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The unexamined element of immigration reform

Now that the government shutdown has ended and the debt limit lifted, President Obama has shifted his attention to immigration reform. He argues that it is imperative that the broken immigration system be fixed once and for all. Considering the bruising everyone just went through, it is hard to imagine lawmakers duking it out over another contentious issue.

Imagine that comprehensive immigration legislation does manage to clear Congress and the White House. Will systems be in place to handle the surge of immigrants who will be eligible for legalization? I cannot speak to the capacities of federal and state governments, but I can begin the conversation on the nonprofit infrastructure that helps immigrants integrate.

The U.S. Senate immigration reform bill that passed last June includes a path to citizenship for a vast majority of undocumented immigrants. The Congressional Budget Office estimates about 8 million will be eligible and apply for regularization of their status. The process will be long, arduous, and costly. But before they embark on this path, individuals will need, first and foremost, legal assistance in understanding the process and submitting applications.

Unauthorized immigrants, who are mostly low-income, will have few resources, if any at all, to secure the services of immigration attorneys. Many will turn to immigrant-serving nonprofits providing free legal information and advice. A new Urban Institute brief provides an outline of these organizations.

An analysis of data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics indicates at least 684 nonprofits provide some form of legal aid to immigrants. These providers are dispersed throughout the United States and can be found where immigrant communities have settled.

Figure1

 It appears, however, that there aren’t enough of them. In the 10 states with the largest populations of undocumented immigrants, nonprofits that provide legal services to immigrants would have more people to serve than other nonprofits. For instance, in Texas, there is one nonprofit providing legal aid to immigrants for every 41,250 undocumented clients. In contrast, the ratio of other nonprofits to the general population is 1 to 2,916.

Table3

In the top 10 states with the largest percentage change in undocumented immigrants, nonprofits that provide legal services to immigrants potentially have a larger population to serve compared to other nonprofits. For instance, in Maryland, the ratio of nonprofits that provide legal aid to immigrants to potential undocumented clients in 1 to 27,500. In contrast, the ratio of other nonprofits to the general population is 1 to 2,182. Alabama is a stark case, where the two nonprofits that provide legal services to immigrants could face an estimated 120,000 undocumented individuals.

Table4

This very high ratio of undocumented immigrants to potential sources of nonprofit legal aid should be a cause for concern. Adding thousands of new cases to existing caseloads without substantial infusion of resources—funding and staffing and volunteers—is not a realistic scenario.

The infrastructure for assisting undocumented immigrants with legal issues is very thin, compared to the projected needs. A concerted effort to assess capacity and plan for expansion is required. Further analysis will help identify where and how infrastructure and capacity can be built to prepare for comprehensive immigration reform. In the meantime funders and other stakeholders can step up and support this research.

Originally posted on Urban Institute’s MetroTrends.

Are Immigrant Aid Organizations Ready for Reform?

(Photo: Flickr/SEIU International)

(Photo: Flickr/SEIU International)

On Oct. 8, thousands rallied at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. then marched to the Capitol demanding that Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform immediately. A reported 200 people got themselves arrested to underscore the urgency of the matter, among them union and community leaders and eight Democratic lawmakers including civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis.

When lawmakers finally do attend to immigration reform, a path to some form of legalization will be part of the equation. The Weekly Standard reports, “84 House Republicans have publicly voiced support for granting some type of legal status to the 11 million immigrants here in the country illegally, and 20 others have said they would be willing to consider it.” Legislation that regularizes the status of over 11 million undocumented individuals will be a long-awaited boon to immigrants and their families. But will they have the support they need to go through what will undoubtedly be a long and arduous process?

Immigrants without papers will be required to meet stringent requirements such as passing background checks, paying penalties and fines, and learning English, U.S. history, and civics. They will also have to deal with a complex application process that will require legal expertise and guidance.

Some people will have the wherewithal to hire private attorneys. Michelle Sardone, field support coordinator of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), said however that those without the means will either turn to community-based organizations (CBOs) for help or attempt to file applications themselves. But, are immigrant-serving nonprofits ready to help millions of undocumented individuals and their families through the legalization process?

Constantino Diaz-Duran, a New York-based journalist, wonders himself. He worked as a legal assistant for Hogar Immigrant Services in the mid-2000s, helping Central Americans extend their Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Over 300,000 Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans were eligible for TPS — a status offered by the U.S. to immigrants affected by natural disasters in the region — and many turned to CBOs for assistance. As part of a team of three full-time attorneys, a few legal assistants, and an army of volunteers, Diaz-Duran sat with immigrants, going through checklists and forms.

“I would be surprised if they are ready, there are so many people,” said Diaz-Duran. “I do think immigrant-aid organizations need to start thinking of organizing and training volunteers. There will be a huge influx of people. I’ve thought of volunteering myself.”

Diaz-Duran’s concerns are well-founded. An Urban Institute study I co-authored identifies less than 700 nonprofits nationwide that provide some form of legal aid to immigrants. Their limited capacity could not possibly meet the demand for services when immigration reform finally passes. In Maryland, for instance, the ratio of nonprofits providing legal aid to immigrants to potential undocumented clients is 1 to 27,500. Alabama is a particularly stark case: two nonprofits provide legal services to the estimated 120,000 undocumented individuals in the state.

Sardone said CLINIC is preparing its 218 affiliates in 47 states for comprehensive immigration reform. The DC-based organization recently released a manual that offers recommendations from nonprofit immigration experts and “veterans” of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which facilitated the legalization of close to 3 million individuals. It also includes lessons learned from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Sardone and some practitioners view as a test run of immigration reform.

“We are preparing our network,” Sardone said. “We’re telling them to start putting together plans, consider what it would look like in their areas to implement [comprehensive immigration reform].” For some, this means getting recognized and accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to legally represent clients. For others, it means finalizing fundraising strategies or incorporating volunteers.

Other networks are also laying the groundwork. Marita Etcubanez, director of programs at the Asian American Justice Center, points to a convening earlier this year by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and the Center for Community Change, which brought together immigration advocates from around the country to share experiences from past reform legislation, as well as to discuss ramping up organizational capacity to meet an anticipated surge in demand for assistance and legal representation.

“There is a great deal to do to prepare, and we will have to work with immigration legal service providers, legal aid groups, other advocacy groups and community-based organizations because we know people will be seeking assistance wherever they can,” said Etcubanez. “We will also have to do widespread outreach and education so that our communities are aware of the changes to the law, have good information about what is available and who is eligible, and know where they can find help.”

Jeanne M. Atkinson, executive director of CLINIC, recalled her experience as a law intern working with immigrant communities after the passage of immigration reform in 1986. “Back then, there was a minimal number of agencies and limited technology,” she said. “We jumped in a minivan, drove to local community and health centers, wherever immigrants were, put up our sign, and provided information to people.”

It’s a different world now. There are a whole lot more CBOs working together to prepare for immigration reform. But in 1986, the number of undocumented immigrants was estimated at 3.2 million. Today there are more than 11 million.

Atkinson says nonprofits will face many hurdles. “The biggest issue is funding, they need the money to hire volunteer coordinators and other staff and to upgrade their technology.” She is nonetheless pleased with the preparation nonprofits, their networks and their community partners are taking. “We’re getting ready.”

Immigrant-serving groups better get ready. Comprehensive immigration reform will happen at some point and there will be millions who will turn to community-based nonprofits for help.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds and the Huffington Post.

Senate Immigration Bill Summary

The U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill which has been characterized as historic. No doubt passing bipartisan legislation is nowadays, but we really should hold the balloons, confetti and champagne for actual passage of reform through the obstructionist House. That being said, it’s worth going over what the hefty Senate bill holds and Politico provides an excellent summary. Here are the highlights:

  • Border security and enforcement has to be super-sized before undocumented immigrants can get green cards. Provisions include doubling the number of Border Patrol agents and completing 700 miles of fencing along the border we share with Mexico, as well as requiring all employers to verify workers’ legal status electronically.
  • In the meantime, however, some of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants can gain legal status or “registered provisional immigrant status” six months after enactment of the bill. The eligible ones are those who arrive prior to Dec. 31, 2011, and never left since then; do not have felony convictions or multiple misdemeanors; and pay hefty fines and back taxes. Individuals who were brought to the country as children would be able to get green cards sooner.
  • More visas would be made available for highly educated and skilled foreign workers. Immigrants with “extraordinary abilities” such as professors, researchers, multinational executives and athletes, would be exempted from existing green-card limits. The Diversity Visa Lottery Program, which randomly awards 55,000 visas to immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S., would be eliminated.
  • Guest worker programs would be set-up for low-skilled workers in agriculture, construction, long-term care, hospitality and other industries. Farm workers already here illegally could qualify for green cards if they remain in the industry another five years.
  • The family reunification program would be upended. U.S. citizens will no longer be able to sponsor their siblings and adult children.

Should some form of this bill somehow survive the House and make it to the President’s desk, it will be far more conservative and limited than it is now.

Comparing Immigration Reform Proposals

Infographic courtesy of the Urban Institute.

Both the President and the Senate’s “gang of eight” introduced proposals for comprehensive immigration reform this week. They agree on key principles revolving around enforcement, employment, a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, and solutions for problems plaguing the system. But they also differ in several ways.

Immigrant advocacy groups have expressed their approval. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund issued the following statement:

NALEO Educational Fund applauds the bipartisan efforts of U.S. Senators who today released their framework for moving comprehensive immigration reform forward. The principles acknowledge that our nation is struggling as a result of our broken immigration system, and aims to address this issue in a fair and humane manner that brings the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country today out of the shadows.

“The statements from President Obama and the bi-partisan group of Senators this week give us hope that immigration policy reform will soon become a reality. Our community members are deeply affected by every facet of our nation’s immigration laws and enforcement practices,” said Deepa Iyer, Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). “Our communities also have sent the message that changes in immigration policy are critical in uniting families, accessing employment, education and health care, and living without fear of detention and deportation.”

There are several differences between the president’s and senators’ frameworks however, as outlined by the Urban Institute. 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. While the president’s plan has a provision for gay families, the senators’ plan does not.

Conservatives in Congress warn against insisting on an LGBT-inclusive provision in any comprehensive immigration legislation.

“I think it is a red herring,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) when asked about this issue. “I think then, do we want to guarantee a tax payer free abortion? I’m telling you now, if you load this up with social issues and things that are controversial, then it will endanger the issue.”

The idea of throwing LGBT immigrant families under the bus has advocates displeased. Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states, released a statement saying they are “disappointed by the exclusion of the Uniting American Families Act to ensure fair treatment of LGBT families from the bill.” The Uniting American Families Act would guarantee the equal treatment of gay couples. Immigration Equality, a group that works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) immigrants, shared this dissatisfaction.

“We were disappointed that the bipartisan framework did not specifically include lesbian and gay families,” said Steve Ralls, Immigration Equality’s Director of Communications. “Earlier this year, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released their priorities for immigration reform and we were on their list that they wanted to see included.”

The administration and GOP leadership appear committed to passing immigration reform this year but there are no guarantees about what form it will take, whether it will be truly comprehensive and inclusive or not.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds.

Immigration Reform: The President’s Plan versus the Senate’s

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.

immigration reformOriginally posted on Urban Institute’s MetroTrends and the Huffington Post.

 

What’s With the Latest Immigration Reprieve?

On January 2, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced a new rule which was welcomed by immigrant communities and their advocates. Some unauthorized immigrants who are in the process of obtaining visas for permanent residency can now expect shorter separation from American family members. It is estimated that this latest immigration initiative from the Obama administration could impact as many as 1 million immigrants without proper papers.

Secretary Napolitano said in a statement that this “facilitates the legal immigration process and reduces the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa.”

Under current law, undocumented spouses, children, and parents of American citizens applying for permanent residency must leave the U.S. to attend an interview for an immigrant visa in their native country. If they have been in the U.S. illegally for more than six months, they are barred from re-entry anywhere from three to ten years which could cause economic, emotional, and psychological distress and strain familial bonds. In order to return, these relatives have to obtain a waiver which they can only apply for after passing an interview. American citizens can thus be separated for many years from immediate family and some immigrants have chosen to remain in the U.S. unlawfully rather than risk a prolonged period apart from loved ones.

The new process, which begins March 4, will allow immigrants who can prove that isolation from their American spouse, child or parent would cause “extreme hardship” to start the application while in the U.S. If approved, applicants will still need to return to their country of origin to pick up their visa but separation is promised to be brief, a matter of weeks not years. The rule does not provide legal status or a shortcut to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.

Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director, said, “The law is designed to avoid extreme hardship to U.S. citizens, which is precisely what this rule achieves. The change will have a significant impact on American families by greatly reducing the time family members are separated from those they rely upon.”

Laura Lichter, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told The New York Times, “This rule is leaps and bounds better than what we have now. For families that were sitting on the fence, unwilling to subject their loved ones to the uncertainty, now they don’t have to wait.”

This is another “gift” from the Obama administration which, like the reprieve granted to DREAMers last August, will benefit many immigrants who call America home. This nonetheless does not fix our dilapidated immigration system or solve the matter of 11 million people living in the shadows. And with all the attention given to gun control and the looming deadline to deal with our debt ceiling and federal budget, I can’t help but wonder if this is but another palliative to keep immigrant communities and reform advocates at bay until the president gets to immigration reform.

Originally posted on the Huffington Post, January 12, 2013.

With Fiscal Cliff Averted, Is Congress Ready to Tackle Immigration Reform?

When will the new Congress take up immigration reform? (Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katieharbath/)

During an interview with David Gregory last Sunday, President Obama reiterated his commitment to immigration reform. “That’s something we should get done,” the president told the NBC host.

But can our elected officials actually get it done? Somehow, they did manage to stop themselves from pushing all of us over the fiscal cliff. Does this mean that they will be able to prioritize immigration reform as promised by party leaders?

Elise Foley and Sam Stein of the Huffington Post report that the Obama administration will push for legislative action this month. But legislation is not crafted overnight. A substantive bill can take months to write, especially a bipartisan one. The Senate’s “Gang of Eight,” led by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have started work on a comprehensive immigration bill, but they are in the early stages. Even if they do manage to introduce one within the next few weeks, there are no guarantees that Congress will take up the bill. While a fiscal cliff deal was reached, sequestration and the debt ceiling will have to be dealt with two months from now. Then the federal budget within three months. Not to mention gun control.

In short, immigration legislation may very well stew for some time before being debated, voted, and eventually passed.

The president’s role in advancing immigration reform is therefore pivotal, his leadership imperative. Will he lead Congress or will he be led by Congress?

Muzaffar Chishti, director the Migration Policy Institute’s New York Office told ABC News that the president “has to make it clear that he’ll use his bully pulpit and his political muscle to make it happen, and he has to be open to using his veto power.”

David Gregory rightfully points out that the president’s political capital is limited. It will be interesting to see how Mr. Obama manages the upcoming battles over the competing legislative priorities.

Even if the president does put the full weight of his office behind immigration reform, it will be countered by inertia and intransigence in Congress. He chose his words well in only promising that legislation will be introduced this year. It will be up to our representatives to do their job and once and for all fix our immigration system.

With the mid-term congressional elections already on the horizon, it only makes sense for lawmakers to do all they can to pass comprehensive immigration reform. After all, they will need the votes of ascendant Latinos, Asians, and other immigrant groups for whom immigration is a very, very important issue.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, January 4, 2013.

Will the “New” Consensus on Immigration Work with the Old?

Will the “new” consensus lay the groundwork for reform? (Photo:Jack Gordon)

A group of leaders that carry bibles, badges, and business plans gathered in the nation’s capital last week. Forging a New Consensus, a group of conservative faith, law enforcement, and business leaders convened to “tell the administration and the Congress that there is a new consensus on immigrants and America.” The coalition also released Voices of the New Consensus: Bibles, Badges and Business, a report that spells out a framework for comprehensive immigration reform.

The document hits the right notes. It stresses that the need for reform is “urgent and critical,” and that bipartisanship, along with a “willingness to compromise on short-term agendas to reach longer-term solutions that uphold America’s commitment to fairness and humane values” is necessary.

The report lists four points of consensus based on a series of interviews with faith, law enforcement, and business leaders. First, aspiring citizens and temporary workers should be afforded a path to lawful status and citizenship. Second, our immigration laws should be modernized to ensure that future immigration is legal, fair, and orderly. Third, our borders should be safe and secure. Finally, President Obama “must lead members of Congress from both parties through an honest, transparent legislative process” that results in comprehensive immigration reform. Conservative leaders acknowledge that “Congress will not be able to succeed without strong leadership.”

But there’s the rub. While the president has been calling for immigration reform from day one, and a framework that embodies the spirit of this “new” consensus has existed for some time now, obstructionist lawmakers, spurred by the anti-immigrant fringe, have stymied the process.

The report points out that “broad and non-traditional coalitions are powerful vehicles to help legislators see common interests. Faith, law enforcement and business leadership working together at the local level can provide unique support and pressure on a member of congress supporting practical immigration reforms.”

Will this legion of bibles, badges, and business be able to mobilize their constituencies to pressure representatives into action and compromise with a duly-elected president these lawmakers unabashedly abhor and long to fail? Moreover, will these conservative players, new to the immigration reform arena, play along with the progressive consensus which has already laid the groundwork for a truly comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform?

Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief, is quoted as saying “We call for a bipartisan solution for immigration that respects the God-given dignity of every person, that protects the unity of the immediate family, that respects the rule of law.” Does that include the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants and the protection of LGBT immigrant families? Will Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, a rabidly homophobic organization, persuade its members to support immigration legislation that covers lesbian and gay binational couples?

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, December 10, 2012. Re-posted on the Huffington Post, December 11.

Will Immigration Reform Be Comprehensive and Inclusive?

Pelosi and Boehner. (Photo: Flickr/talkradionews)

Republican leadership in Congress now appears to be on board with immigration reform, shocked into action by the potency of the Latino vote and awakened to a new political order that includes people of color. But will reform be truly comprehensive, offering a path to citizenship for some 11 million unauthorized immigrants? Will it be inclusive, embracing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) immigrant families?

Speaker Boehner, supported by talking heads who dramatically “evolved” on the issue a day after Gov. Romney’s drubbing, seems determined to fix our immigration system and address the plight of our undocumented neighbors. There are those in the GOP however, who bristle at the idea of a compromise that goes beyond tighter border enforcement and visas for much needed scientists and farm workers.

While I remain skeptical about any major legislation breaking Washington’s congressional impasse, comprehensive immigration reform is conceivable if both parties harken back to the day, not too long ago, when they actually agreed on a comprehensive immigration framework. I am concerned however that along the way, gay binational couples will be thrown under the bus as lawmakers “compromise.”

Steve Ralls, Director of Communications at Immigration Equality assures me that this is unlikely to happen. Immigration Equality has been at the forefront of pushing immigration reform that is both comprehensive and inclusive.

“All signs are pointing to an immigration reform effort early in the new Congress,” Ralls said. “Immigration Equality is confident we can ensure that effort will include LGBT binational families. The combination of steadfast allies on the Hill; a president who has vowed to end the separation of our families; and a vigorous grassroots mobilization makes us more optimistic than ever that we can win this within the next year.”

His confidence stems from having key lawmakers such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the side of LGBT immigrant families.

“Leaders on immigration and LGBT issues – such as Congressman (Jerrold) Nadler (D-NY), Congressman (Mike) Honda (D-CA), Congresswoman (Zoe) Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman (Luis) Gutierrez (D-IL) – have committed that they will work for an inclusive bill,” he added. “And in the Senate, any immigration reform measure will first have to be approved by the Judiciary Committee before moving to the full Senate for a vote.”

The Judiciary Committee is chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), a lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA)which brings equality to gay couples under immigration law. Senator Leahy has promised that only an inclusive bill will leave his committee, and that he will work hand-in-hand with other lawmakers – including Republicans – to make that a reality.

One of these Republicans is Senator Susan Collins. When asked whether Senator Collins would support an inclusive immigration reform bill, her office sent a statement reiterating her commitment to UAFA.

“This legislation would simply update our nation’s immigration laws to treat bi-national couples equally,” Collins said. “More than two dozen countries recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes. This important civil rights legislation would help prevent committed, loving families from being forced to choose between leaving their family or leaving their country.”

Another key player is the president himself who received overwhelming support from LGBT and immigrant communities in his bid for reelection.  Mr. Obama has signaled action on immigration in 2013.

“Immigration Equality’s team has already started reaching out to our key allies – on the Hill, in the Administration and among LGBT and immigration advocacy organizations – to ensure we have the public support, Congressional votes and allied support we need to get an inclusive bill introduced and passed,” Ralls said. “The seismic shift on LGBT and immigrants’ rights issues that has taken place in Washington and across the country makes us believe that passage of an inclusive bill isn’t just possible, but indeed is likely.”

Let’s hope so.

Originally posted on Feet in 2 Worlds, November 19, 2012 and the Huffington Post, November 20, 2012.