Back from the Dead (with thoughts on the failure to include LGBT couples in immigration reform)

22 May

I started writing this as a comment to a friend’s post on facebook, but then it got really long and then I thought, “hey, didn’t I I used to have a blog where I ranted about stuff?” So here are my thoughts about the disappointment of many that binational couples were not included in the immigration reform bill that just passed the Senate judiciary committee.

There is no explanation but a political one for the failure of the Uniting American Families Act.  There aren’t the votes for UAFA.  There are 100 senators, and not enough of them will support the provision. In the Republican House its chances are somewhere in the negative range.  That may not be a reality we like, but it is an undeniable reality.  The question the movement for Commonsense Immigration Reform was/is faced with is: Are we ok with halting the bill altogether, with sacrificing the legalization of 11 million people to make a point? We may not like the choices, but that is what they are right now. Either accept a bill without UAFA, which its proponents say will help approximately 40,000 people, or insist on it and stop any chance of legalization for 11 million people. My answer: I support UAFA but I’m not willing to sacrifice 11 million for those 40,000. Call me a sellout.  I’m sure this blogger would. She writes about yesterday’s disappointing news:

I completely and totally reject this decision due to the fact that my husband will have a permanent residency appointment in the very near future because of our heterosexual privilege.

In my world, there’s no excuse, no manner to explain away what happened yesterday. I will not simply tweet out a consolatory message, or rue the fact that sacrifices had to be made.

And those so-called immigrant activists? Those same ones who dare to tell you binational same-sex couples that, “Once the reform becomes law, we’ll come back for the you,” or say to you with earnest eyes, “Don’t worry – The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be struck down next month.”

Those same activists who supposedly believe that, “No human being is illegal?”

I’ll gladly help you slap each and every one of those so-called immigration activists clear across the face.

In Love and Solidarity Always,


PS And all of you supposedly pro-immigrant organizations, groups and individuals that are sending out congratulatory messages, all of you in the online and offline community who were chanting proudly after the vote at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting yesterday, I offer this to you:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.”

-Martin Niemöller

We are right to fight for UAFA, and author’s blunt words come from real conviction. But support for UAFA is not the question.  Read the whole blog post and you’ll see there is a lot of passion, there is no answer to the question above.  Should the whole bill go down because UAFA is not in it?  I’m not dismissive of her passion but her need to mock and deride those who dared celebrate committee passage of the full bill, that’s a little much.  And the over-used Niemoller quote? Puh-leaze.

The fight for immigration reform began in the 80s after the last one still did not create a sane system to keep people from coming to the country and having to live in the shadows. The Uniting American Families Act is legislation was first introduced in 2000 but has had no real support until very recently. That doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile, it just means that there has not been the kind of movement behind of UAFA that has finally put CIR on the table.

And then there are the really annoying gay blogger/activists, like John Aravosis of, who in a tweetrage about the withdrawal of the Leahy Amendment, had this to say:

That tells you all you need to know about some of the loudest voices on this subject right now. When Aravosis pulls out the “we’re not law-breakers” line (he’s done it before) he is reminding everyone this bill is only helping those horrible “illegals.” It’s disgusting. Worse, elsewhere he has mocked the idea that legalizing 11 million people does help gay people because many of those 11 million are gay. That’s whose leading the charge among the prominent gay politicos on calling those of us not willing to sacrifice 11 million sellouts.

Aravosis. Mean Gay.

Aravosis. Mean Gay.

The fight for marriage equality has made enormous strides in recent years. I support it and, in fact, I rearranged my life in the last two years to defeat the horrible Minnesota amendment and then pass equality. As a gay man who is a citizen of this country I must acknowledge a fact that I hope others can ponder: the cause of gay rights, especially regarding marriage, have progressed far more rapidly than any progress made for immigrants living in shadows. In fact, things have only gotten worse, dramatically worse.

Of course I support the goals of UAFA. But the political reality of vote-counting says it won’t happen and insistence on it will sink a bill that does a lot of the things we do need to have happen, including legalizing millions.  In politics sometimes the choices are stark.  In this case, I’ll take the imperfect and move on to fight another day.

[I’m taking a bit of a leave from work. After suffering through a chronic neck connection all winter, a couple weeks ago I threw out my back. “What were you doing?”, I was asked by an ER nurse. “Putting on socks. While being old.”  With my body telling me I need a rest, I’m taking a much needed long vacation.  One thing I do hope to do on that leave is, now that I have re-discovered it, is write about the world and stuff on this blog.]

2 Responses to “Back from the Dead (with thoughts on the failure to include LGBT couples in immigration reform)”

  1. longwalkdownlyndale May 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Thug in Pastels rides again! My main problem with the sorts of anti-CIR arguments you outlined above is that they completely ignore the fact that the only way to get political change in a nation of 310 million people, or even a city of 385,000, is to work through coalitions, which by definition means you are going to have to compromise on some things. This can be hard, because sometimes you care a lot about what’s being compromised on and of course we shouldn’t forget that. But we should also remember that when we ask other folks in our coalition to make big sacrifices for what we care about and we might see as no-brainers. Like asking a new legislator to risk their political career by voting for marriage equality. Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein put it this way back before the 2012 elections:

    “Once you get properly involved [in politics], however, you find that in order to get anywhere you must play coalition politics. Suppose you care about civil liberties and want the Democratic Party to take a tougher stand against Bush-era violations…Well, you can’t just do that in the abstract. You’ll need to be dealing with the pro-choicers, and the unions, and African-Americans, and environmentalists, and the single-payer healthcare folks, and more and more and more, both as organized groups and as individuals who care about various issues or who care about their group interests…

    It’s not just that you may have to cut deals that involve sacrificing what you think of as your principles. It’s that real coalition work – real politics – involves taking other people, their beliefs and cultures and values and preferences and passions, seriously. It involves trying to see the world as they see it. And that may expose you to their pain, and even the possibility that you (or at least folks in groups you identify with) caused some of that pain. It may involve finding out that people within some group you’ve always thought you identified with are actually radically different from yourself, and don’t even consider you one of them. It involves allowing for the possibility that you won’t come out of politics the same way you went into it. That takes more than a little courage.

    The rewards, however, are potentially enormous, because, as Bouie says, it really is possible for relatively small groups to have real effects on a political party, even in a very large nation. So if you really do want to see change happen, it’s well worth it.”

    here’s the link:

  2. thedeporteeswife May 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Hi Javier,

    Interesting post.

    I do not feel that is about selling out, or about creating an either-or situation. I feel that the whole “11 million vs 40,000” is a false construct. That’s what I take issue with. Because if I accept that very same “logic” that false construct, then there will just be repeats of the past, i.e., ENDA and the trangender community.

    And the Neimoller quote? Sure, it is old and creaky. But sometimes old and creaky is a good reminder about getting back to basics, particularly from a community organizing perspective.

    And in my opinion, what was going on that room yesterday at the SJC meeting was no where near community organizing. Because independent of the fact of how the rights for same-sex binational couples went down in flames yesterday, there are many other points that came out of the SJC vote on CIR that are extremely unsettling and unacceptable to me. I wish that those points were unsettling and unacceptable to more people, those same people who are supposedly, “social justice workers.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: