In addition to unjust family separation, our broken immigration system does not extend immigrant rights to same-sex partners, and LGBT families are left out of the immigration system. The LGBT community’s triumph on Tuesday represents progress for immigrant rights. The electorate in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State passed marriage-equality measures, and Minnesota voters defeated a ballot measure against same-sex marriage. Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay person to the U.S. Senate, and the nation re-elected Barack Obama, the first President to ever support marriage-equality. As we move forward to advance LGBT rights, including overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, we must illuminate the realities of same-sex, immigrant partnerships. No one should have to choose between their spouse and their country, and U.S. citizens should not be separated from their loved ones.
The comprehensive and inclusive Reuniting Families Act will ensure that same sex-partners and families are treated equitably in the immigration system. When we recognize the intersections in the experiences and struggles of immigrant and LGBT communities, we can work together to oppose repressive legislation, fix systems, and support policies that protect rights and promote inclusivity.
In this election, immigrant youth activists, immigrant communities, advocates, and the electorate brought immigration reform to the forefront of the legislative agenda. Our nation was built upon the toil of immigrants hoping to build better lives for themselves and their families, and immigrants continue to make profound contributions to our economy and social fabric. That is why we need a comprehensive solution that provides an adequate number of family-based visas per year and expands employment-based visa categories that grant foreign students with advanced US university degrees in science and engineering a path to citizenship.
As a nation, we must continue moving forward in a collective fight for immigration reform that values the contributions of immigrants and honors the American Dream. Civic participation did not start and end on Nov. 6th, and voters must hold their elected officials accountable. Congress must collaborate and forge comprehensive and humane immigration reform. As Immigration Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus, I will continue to advocate for immigration reform, and I am committed to reaching across the aisle. We all agree that that reform is overdue. Now is the time to work together.
Honda represents Silicon Valley and serves on the House Budget and Appropriations committees.