A group of LGBT advocacy organizations blasted lawmakers in a joint statement to The Raw Story on Wednesday for considering emphasizing increased security along the border between the U.S. and Mexico a pre-requisite to speeding the citizenship process for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
“The Senate bill already contains very strict enforcement provisions that reflect a compromise,” said the statement, credited to a 9-group contingent that included organizations like GLAAD, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, among others. “Harsher enforcement mechanisms for immigrants will have a disproportionately very negative impact on LGBT immigrants, whom studies have shown receive harsher punishments than their non-LGBT peers — especially in the case of LGBT people of color.”
Despite projections by the Congressional Budget Office that immigration reform would cut federal deficits by $700 billion within 20 years, and an immigration rate reportedly at net-zero, Republican lawmakers have insisted on increasing security along the border.
As Mother Jones reported on Wednesday, the current version of the bill already calls for $4.5 billion to be used to increase security along the border, but lacks specific initiatives on how to use the money. Other reports have shed light on how departments in the region have spent — or misspent — increased funding for their own enforcement efforts. The current bill calls for the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a plan to ensure “90 percent” effectiveness in curbing undocumented crossings within six months after it passes.
On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced an amendment into the current Senate bill allowing states to require prospective voters to show proof of citizenship, in an open challenge to a Superme Court decision overturning parts of an Arizona state law. A day later, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called for an “inspector general” figure to address the issue and for a yearly congressional vote based on “how many illegal aliens were in the country.”
Without mentioning either senator by name, the group’s statement rebuked “lawmakers who oppose opportunity and dignity for aspiring citizens” for moving the goal posts on the bill, originally proposed by their bipartisan “Gang of 8″ colleagues.
The statement also referenced the recent survey released by Latino Decisions showing heavy bipartisan support among Latino voters for placing a path to citizenship on equal footing with security concerns, as well as another study showing 80 percent of overall voters favoring the idea.
“It is unconscionable that these senators are playing politics when the lives of 11 million people, including 267,000 LGBT immigrants, are at stake,” said the statement. “Millions of families have been torn apart because we have a patchwork of failed and mismanaged immigration policies. We must pass humane immigration reform that provides a clear and direct path to citizenship and does not throw up unnecessary roadblocks.”
Also taking part in the statement were GetEQUAL, United We Dream, the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Equality Federation.
[Image: "Hundreds Of Thousands Of Immigrants Participate In March For Immigrants And Mexicans Protesting Against Illegal Immigration Reform By U.S. Congress, Los Angeles, Ca, May 1, 2006" by spirit of america via Shutterstock]
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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