Local Briefs: LGBT immigrants to participate in Citizenship for All march in Dallas

Posted on 03 May 2013 at 12:30pm

Quir Dallas, a group for undocumented LGBT immigrants, will participate in the Citizenship for All march in downtown Dallas on May 5. LGBT and straight allies are welcome to join.

Lucy Martinez asked people to bring Pride flags, and posters will be provided.

As an immigration reform bill works its way through Congress, LGBT inclusion has been the greatest point of contention.

Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee have insisted the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow a U.S. citizen to sponsor a same-sex partner for residency, be omitted from the bill.

Martinez said transgender rights are also not adequately addressed in the legislation.

“Stop profiling immigrant trans women,” she said.

Trans detainees are usually housed according to their birth gender or subjected to long periods of solitary confinement.

Many are asylum-seekers who would be murdered in their home countries.

Amendments to the bill must be submitted by May 7 and the committee will vote the week of May 13, according to Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls.

Both Texas senators sit on the committee and are among eight Republicans who have “drawn a line in the sand” to exclude same-sex partners, he said.

The DREAM Act and repeal of the one-year filing deadline for asylum remain in the bill. Both benefit LGBT immigrants.

The DREAM Act would give immigrants who arrived as minors with their parents and remain undocumented a path to citizenship. The asylum provision refers to a rule that within a year of arrival, a person must ask for asylum. Circumstances such as coming out more than a year after arrival are not taken into consideration.

But UAFA is a major concern. Under current law, an opposite-sex spouse may sponsor his or her partner. A same-sex spouse may not.

Ralls said a large proportion of LGBT undocumented immigrants are raising children, but a child cannot sponsor a parent until the child is 21 years old.

“The child doesn’t have the ability to keep his parents together in the U.S.,” Ralls said. “If we get a good Supreme Court decision, that will take care of things for most LGBT couples.”

The Supreme Court heard a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act in March. The ruling is expected at the end of June.

If DOMA is declared unconstitutional, same-sex couples could travel to equality states. For immigration purposes, their marriages would be recognized by the federal government even in inequality states. The non-resident spouse could then apply for a Green Card.
Ralls said the most effective thing to do is to contact members of Congress to tell personal stories.

A 2011 Williams Institute study estimated 28,574 binational same-sex couples live in the U.S. Of those, 1,607 live in Texas.

The Citizenship for All march begins at Cathedral of Guadalupe and finishes at city Hall.
QuirDallas will meet at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Meyerson Symphony Center. The march begins at 1:30 p.m. QuirDallas.org.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 3, 2013.

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