Get to work, Congress, and pass immigration reform

For all the joy of the day, our wedding was bittersweet. Some of our loved ones could not travel from our home state of New Mexico, for fear that their immigration status would be revealed and they would get deported. While the end of DOMA was a great step forward for the LGBT community – including at least 267,000 LGBT immigrants – our dedication to comprehensive immigration reform is stronger than ever.  We remain committed to this fight for our friends and loved ones, and millions of families like mine in the U.S. at risk of being separated due to our country’s broken immigration system.

The time to address the need for comprehensive immigration reform is now. Every day that Congress stalls, 1,100 families are torn apart. Recently, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced an immigration reform bill that mirrors the Senate’s version, which passed with wide bipartisan support this summer.

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The House and Senate bills go a long way in correcting our discriminatory and mismanaged immigration policies. Both versions include many provisions that will particularly benefit LGBT immigrants. These include eliminating the one-year bar on applying for asylum; improving conditions for people held in detention facilities; and limiting the use of solitary confinement, as well as prohibiting the use of this practice based solely on a detainees’ sexual orientation or gender identity.

Poll after poll shows the American voters – including a majority of Republicans – are with us.  They want this country’s broken immigration system to be fixed, a balanced approach to reform, and a path to citizenship. That’s why the Senate passed a bipartisan bill back in July, which while not perfect, should have paved the way for continued momentum on behalf of this urgent issue.

A House majority exists in support of immigration reform; however, the GOP is playing political games while 11 million lives hang in the balance. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he will not allow a vote if he doesn’t have the support of the majority of his party. This means that a group of 118 representatives – just 27 percent of the House – holds the entire process hostage on this vital issue. This is outrageous and undemocratic. We refuse to allow a minority to block immigration reform we so urgently need.

It’s not enough to offer undocumented immigrants work permits, instead of full citizenship. That approach would relegate millions of people to a permanent underclass. It’s not enough that Congress address the status of immigrant youth, while ignoring their families and friends who must continue to live in fear of deportation. DREAMers, including the LGBT people who have played such a critical role in the movement, have spoken out against a policy that legalizes them but deports their parents.

While the House and Senate bills are not perfect and include needlessly harsh border security provisions, this is the best chance in a generation to provide a roadmap to citizenship for all aspiring citizens. Congress must stop playing politics and solve the problems of this country.

Ryan and I are standing with our immigrant and LGBT allies to demand that Congress listen to the will of the people and get to work. Congress needs to stop the petty bickering and political gridlock and pass comprehensive reform that will address our immigration crisis once and for all. 

Adame lives in New Mexico.

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