Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) wants to do something about the nearly 6 million people that have been separated from their spouses, minor children, sisters or brothers for years because of an immigration backlog.
The congressman announced Thursday that he was introducing the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709) to reform the family-based immigration system that has not been updated in 20 years.
The legislation aims to fix the broken family immigration system by reducing the wait times for legal immigrants and eliminating discrimination against same sex, permanent partners.
"Many family members who apply for visas are not granted admission for decades, undermining their economic contributions to our country and encouraging some frustrated relatives to resort to illegal migration," Honda said Thursday.
"This bill would take important steps to towards fixing our broken family immigration system by reducing the waiting times for legal immigrants through recapturing family work visas that have gone unused. RFA would reclassify spouses and children of legal permanent residents as immediate relatives," he explained.
"RFA also ends discrimination in our immigration system by allowing same sex, permanent partners to sponsor their foreign national partners... It is the first time LGBT provisions have been included in a large immigration reform bill," Honda added.
Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of the Immigration Equality Action Fund, hailed the legislation.
"Our country's broken immigration system is failing all families and the measures included in the Reuniting Families Act are desperately needed," she said.
"Just like other immigrant families, LGBT families know all too well the pain of being forced into exile and being ripped apart from parents, siblings and children, too."